Advance on abortion law reform and the treatment of women generally is now inevitable in the Republic. But will it go the whole way?

For readers catching up, the Times (£) has a good pull together on the prospects of seismic change to the Republic’s abortion law.

In a series of votes over the weekend, the citizens’ assembly, set up to consider the issue, recommended that abortion should be available up to 12 weeks after conception “with no restriction as to reason”. The vote for change was overwhelming, by 52 to 29.

The Irish Times passes a qualified verdict

Despite the recommendation from the ( citizen’s ) assembly for a complete liberalisation of the law of abortion, allowing for abortion on request, the thinking of many people in both Government and the Oireachtas generally is that a more limited liberalisation of the law is both preferable and more likely to be endorsed by the electorate.

Privately, many senior political figures are sceptical that a referendum to enable the introduction of abortion on request would pass in a referendum, despite the vote at the Citizens’ Assembly.

In another remarkable development there are real doubts as to whether Dublin’s main new  300m euro maternity hospital should be handed over to the management of a Catholic Order  the Sisters of Charity for fear they would deny appropriate  treatment to women. The former chief executive Peter Boylan now wants to reverse the government’s decision and the board is  divided, with his own sister in law against him and wanting to dismiss him from the board . I suppose he has to answer the question: could the maternity hospital  staffed  by other than the Sisters of Charity?

The Catholic bishop who made these comments to the Sunday Times now says they were  “general in nature” about the supremacy of canon law over state law.

The healthcare organisation bearing the name Catholic, while offering care to all who need it, has a special responsibility… to Catholic teachings about the value of human life and the dignity and the ultimate destiny of the human person,”

Fintan O’Toole declares  

If we don’t own our own hospitals, we don’t own our own bodies. And if we don’t take ownership of our own State we will always be hearing those words: This is not a decision for you.

.. and gives this example  from the bed next to his wife’s.

She had just given birth to her fifth child. She, too, did not want any more children. She wanted, as she put it, “to have my tubes burnt”. The curtains were drawn around her bed but everyone in the ward could hear the conversation with the doctor to whom she put this request.

The doctor, a woman, was professional and sympathetic. But she was also emphatic: “This is not a decision for you and it is not a decision for me. It is a decision for the ethics committee of the hospital. If you wish to make a request, your file will be sent to the ethics committee. They will read your file and on the basis of the file they will decide whether or not you can have a tubal ligation. But I must warn you that even if they rule in your favour, the procedure will not be covered by your medical card. It will be separately means-tested.”

Colleen Hennessy in the journal.ie links the two stories

 The announcement by the Department of Health right before the Citizens’ Assembly shares its final recommendations on the eighth amendment this weekend shows that the government does not think that the Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendations regarding abortion legalisation is relevant to the ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital.

This does not bode well for the Coalition to Repeal the Eight Amendment.

I fear for the campaign to repeal the Eighth because although access to abortion services is integral to gender equality in healthcare, I fear it won’t be enough to address the incestuous entanglement between Ireland’s public policy and State-funded services and the Catholic Church.

This week’s announcement in the context of the Citizens’ Assembly, the confirmed mass grave at a Magdalene laundry in Tuam, and the recent Census results shows the continued normalisation of a religious order “owning” a tax-payer funded social service.

I believe it will take legal challenges on the grounds of gender discrimination and inequality under Irish law to fully remove the Catholic Church from publicly-funded schools and other services.

The Sunday Times story on the citizen’s assembly verdict on abortion reform.

Ireland is likely to hold a referendum to liberalise abortion after a citizens’ assembly voted overwhelmingly for reform.

If Irish people opted for reform, it would mean changing the Republic’s constitution to overhaul its abortion laws, which are among the most restrictive in Europe.

Abortion is available in Ireland only when there is a proven risk to the woman’s life, including through suicide. Many pregnant women travel to Britain or have an illegal termination with pills bought online.

In a series of votes over the weekend, the citizens’ assembly, set up to consider the issue, recommended that abortion should be available up to 12 weeks after conception “with no restriction as to reason”. The vote for change was overwhelming, by 52 to 29.

The assembly of 33 representatives chosen by political parties, 66 citizens chosen randomly and a chairwoman was set up last year by Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, to consider constitutional issues. A 22-week gestational limit, which would be more in line with British law, was narrowly defeated, by 25 citizens to 23. Four people voted for no restriction whatever.

In a report to the Irish parliament due before the end of June, Ms Justice Laffoy, the forum’s chairwoman, is expected to advise that any new abortion law should consider the rights of the woman and not only the rights of the foetus.

Her report will be considered by a special Irish parliamentary committee that will put proposals before parliament. The parliament will then be able to vote on calling a referendum, the only means by which the Irish constitution can be changed.

Two senior Irish politicians said that abortion reform should be dealt with within the next year. Frances Fitzgerald, deputy prime minister and justice minister, said that abortion was “best dealt with between a woman and her doctors, but of course you also have to have an appropriate legislative basis”. She added: “My own thinking is that there should be a referendum next year.”

Paschal Donohoe, the public expenditure minister, also urged parliament to act by next year amid fears that the minority government could collapse. The majority of Irish politicians previously had only considered making abortion available in limited circumstances, such as rape or where the child is found to have no chance of surviving.

Abortion laws have remained almost unassailable since 1983, when the eighth amendment to the constitution was approved. It was added amid fears that the law could be liberalised if a woman took a case to the Supreme Court. Since its introduction, the amendment has been linked with a series of scandals. They include an attempt by the Irish attorney-general to stop a rape victim travelling to Britain to terminate a pregnancy in 1990.

In 2012 Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist, died from sepsis after she was denied a termination.

In 2014 Ms Y, an asylum seeker who had been raped, went on hunger strike after she was refused an abortion.

United Nations and European Court of Human Rights rulings have called for the immediate repeal of the eighth amendment on human rights grounds.

Q&A
Why is this happening now? 

The decision of Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, to establish a citizens’ assembly to consider abortion reform was widely seen as a delaying tactic. However, its vote to change the constitution and liberalise the law puts the government under unprecendented pressure for change.

What is the reaction in Ireland? 
The citizens’ assembly vote has caused political chaos. No politician, or even pro-choice campaigner, had envisioned that the recommended change would be so liberal.

What chance is there of change?
There will almost certainly be a referendum, probably early next year. Polls suggest that the result will be pro-choice.

 

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  • Jim M

    Sounds like a sensible decision was reached. Not very helpful re FFA cases though…

  • Jag

    Pretty dramatic to see the Shinners’ reaction to the votes at the Citizens Assembly in favour of on request/demand abortion up to 12 weeks from gestation (64% in favour of up to 12 weeks, 44% in favour up to 22 weeks and 5% unrestricted)

    SF won’t accept the position of the Citizens Assembly because it allows for abortion on request, whilst the SF position is abortion can only be provided in cases of rape, incest or a fatal condition for the foetus/unborn (personally I find that position barbaric because it potentially allows the abortion of a near full term healthy foetus, but that’s the SF position).

    Given FF/FG/SF is against abortion on request, what hope for the views of the Citizens Assembly being enacted? I wouldn’t be confident at all.

  • Granni Trixie

    Yet prior to this outcome I found it odd in view of the fact that it had already been tried unsuccessfully, that Sf
    placed a revival of the Civic Forum on their shopping list of demands. I wondered if their original idea was to replicate a citizens assembly? I now wonder if they still have a civic forum on their list given the citizens Assembly have shown their mettle?

  • Korhomme

    I think that the government have shot themselves in the foot. The Citizens Assembly was set up to think about things, including abortion, that the government found too difficult. I suspect they were hoping that the citizens would shuffle things around, and then kick the whole thing into the long grass.

    Instead, the citizens heard a lot about the legal and medical positions. They are certainy the most informed ‘ordinary’ members of society. If it was a surprise that they didn’t vote to repeal the 8th Amendment, this was on foot of the legalities and the potential for referrals to the Supreme Court. So they voted to change the 8th, to leave it up to the Oireachtas (the Legislature). And then they voted to allow ‘abortion on demand’ though those weren’t the actual words.

    Now, if a body of citizens who have been fully appraised of the facts come up with these recommendations, how is the government going to try to ‘water them down’, or try to say that the country doesn’t want them?

  • Korhomme

    Given FF/FG/SF is against abortion on request, what hope for the views of the Citizens Assembly being enacted?

    How are the parties going to argue against the opinion of what must be the most informed body of citizens in the country? Are they going to say it was all rigged, the citizens are eejits or what?

    As for FFA, this is a ‘legal’ term, and in most cases it should be clear well before term what the position is. The great majority of abortions where the procedure is legal are performed early. I doubt if there are many near-term abortions where rape is involved — I suspect that this is a specious argument from jurisdictions where abortion is severely circumscribed, and where the process of obtaining one is very difficult. If the whole process is non-judgemental and straightforward, it can be completed expeditiously.

  • Katyusha

    Now, if a body of citizens who have been fully appraised of the facts come up with these recommendations, how is the government going to try to ‘water them down’, or try to say that the country doesn’t want them?

    You underestimate how slippery the government can be when pretending to implement the will of the citizens. On the issue of the franchise for the presidential election, the government looks like it will tie votes for citizens in NI (a popular proposal) to the issue of votes for the diaspora (less popular), in order to sink the motion. You’re talking about a country that will re-run referendums if the citizens choose the “wrong” option.

  • Katyusha

    I doubt if there are many near-term abortions where rape is involved — I suspect that this is a specious argument from jurisdictions where abortion is severely circumscribed, and where the process of obtaining one is very difficult.

    How do you secure a rape conviction in the short timeframe required, in 12-23 weeks?
    Legislating for abortion specifically in cases of rape is a minefield,You’re probably right that it is not such an issue in areas with “abortion on demand”.

  • Korhomme

    The simple answer is that rape prosecutions take far longer than 12 – 22 weeks; it is the idea that is important, it is a way to open the minds of the unthinking. Far, far easier is to simply be non-judgmental, even if this is a step too far for some who haven’t thought things through.

  • Korhomme

    I don’t underestimate the slipperyness of any government, I just think that they will have difficulty explaining why their ideas are ‘better’ than those of the Assembly. Of course, they might well try.

    I am a citizen, but am in the north. On the franchise for the President, this is again the sort of thing that governments try on; to conflate one idea with another, and pretend that they are the same thing. And while referendums can be rerun when the citizens, damn them, the bastards, give the wrong answer, in at least one case the government did get some exceptions to the EU requirements which they might otherwise not have obtained.

    If you are saying that the governments in both the Republic and in the UK are a bunch of elitist, establishment cute hoors, people who cannot wholly be trusted even when there is no alternative, I cannot disagree.

  • Katyusha

    Alternatively, people who are pro-life are clearly going to interpret your comment as a cynical attempt to use the emotive issue of rape as the thin end of a wedge to force through wholesale abortion reform. Far, far easier simply not to legislate for the permission due to the claim of rape. I appreciate your honesty, though. Although dismissing people who don’t agree with you as simply “not having thought things through” is more than condescending.

    Any, Korhomme, since you have been talking about near-term abortions, what’s your view on gestational limits? If we are able to reduce the age of the foetus at which it can survive outside the womb, is there still a case for termination on demand if the foetus is viable? Should the age at which a foetus can be legally aborted reduce along with medical advances in the care of premature babies?

  • Korhomme

    She had just given birth to her fifth child. She, too,
    did not want any more children. She wanted, as she put it, “to have my
    tubes burnt”. The curtains were drawn around her bed but everyone in the
    ward could hear the conversation with the doctor to whom she put this
    request.

    The doctor, a woman, was professional and sympathetic. But she was
    also emphatic: “This is not a decision for you and it is not a decision
    for me. It is a decision for the ethics committee of the hospital. If
    you wish to make a request, your file will be sent to the ethics
    committee. They will read your file and on the basis of the file they
    will decide whether or not you can have a tubal ligation. But I must
    warn you that even if they rule in your favour, the procedure will not
    be covered by your medical card. It will be separately means-tested.”

    Can anyone expand on this, please. I wasn’t aware that there were legal restrictions on tubal ligation (or vasectomy) in the Republic. Is what is being said here simply a reflection of the policy of an individual hospital?

  • Barneyt

    Hospital and religious order in the same sentence fills me with the same horror as children’s ward and can you give sir jimmy a room for the night.

    The Irish state needs to permanently separate all aspects of the state from any church. Creditors ( we know I’m talking about religious orders) to the state must be forced to relinquish their property with haste. I don’t believe FG will see anything like this through and I doubt FF will either. too many guilt infested little mammies boys if you ask me.

    I hope we offer women the right to oversee what happens to their own bodies but it will be close. Not sure how I’d call it.

    Separation of church and state in the ROI and a positive vote for abortion rights could help cure our wee island problem. Unionism suffers from this too and it could present a wee outlet for freedom. It will be a true freestate

  • Korhomme

    I shudder when I hear about ‘thin ends of wedges’. Yes the ‘pro-life’ people (who could equally be called ‘anti-choice’) are going to be upset; upset because I’m disturbing their world view — and for that I do not apologise.

    I am a ‘pro-choice’. I come that that position not through considerations of morality nor of philosophical argument. I come to it through simple pragmatics. Abortion has been recorded for nearly 3000 years; there has always been a demand — which hasn’t always been met — and there has always been those who disapprove. When I say there has always been a demand, I mean exactly that. I understand what an abortion is; that is not to say I like it. I have never deliberately performed an abortion, and so far as I’m aware, never done one unknowingly. But I still know what it is and what it means. I have discussed with those who perform abortions where this is legal; they do not like what they are doing, but they see their obligation, their duty, is to treat the patient before them and not to enforce their own ideas of the morality upon them; people who perform the procedures are not some sort of blood-lusting maniacs. Have I thought this though? Yes: I would treat patients an people according to their needs and not according to my principles, and preferably not constrained by the law — why should the law dictate how I treat people?. Am I being condescending? Perhaps; I find it difficult to argue with people whose understanding is based on faith or belief rather than empirical evidence; I see them as not willing to debate, or perhaps not able to debate, or simply scared to debate.

    In terms of gestational limits: yes, I accept that around 22 -24 weeks can/should be considered a limit. At that stage, the unborn can, with sufficient support, survive. Should that limit reduce, should the facts change, then I might well change my opinions. Later abortions because of ‘FFA’, a catch all phrase unknown in medical practice, is a different problem.

  • Trasna

    You will just have to take the woman’s word that she was raped.

  • Trasna

    A Catholic ethos hospital, I would imagine. The patient could get it done elsewhere.

  • Trasna

    Constitutionally, private property is protected. The state simply cannot take, even compulsory purchase orders are fraught and are often challenged in the court’s.

  • hgreen

    And that should be good enough.

  • Korhomme

    Thanks. That would also be my guess.

  • Gavin Crowley

    “a body of citizens who have been fully appraised of the facts”
    The Citizen’s Assembly was not very well run, and one of the downsides of that is that is the temptation to think that the results would be mirrored by a referendum. A referendum will allow assertions to be challenged, which did not happen in the Assembly. It will be a wide ranging discussion, unlike the Assembly. It will be passionate, and representative of the full range of opinion. And it will be less well informed.
    If the Citizens’ Assembly proposals were put to a referendum it would be defeated, in my opinion.
    If it had been run fairly and openly it would probably have been more similar to public opinion. The pro-choice bias of the staff and Chair may succeed in ensuring a failed referendum.
    The Government, and more widely the Dáil, can’t afford a failed referendum, so they will moderate these proposals.

  • Abucs

    I think it is inevitable that science will progress to the point of making it crystal clear to everyone the barbarity of ‘abortion’.

  • Hugh Davison

    I’m mystified already. ‘science will progress to the point of making it crystal clear’. What do you mean?

  • Abucs

    We will see the actual death involved with more precise technology, Already in some countries it is illegal to show actual footage of an abortion on television.

  • Korhomme

    You make serious allegations about the running of the Assembly. I think you should substantiate these with evidence rather than invective.

    The Citizen’s Assembly was not very well run

    In what way was the Assembly not well run? Are you suggesting that a judge of the High Court isn’t impartial?

    A referendum will allow assertions to be challenged, which did not happen in the Assembly.

    Are you saying that assertions were not challenged in the Assembly? Evidence, please.

    It will be a wide ranging discussion, unlike the Assembly.

    Show us where the Assembly did not counter allegations; explain exactly why this would happen in a referendum.

    It will be passionate, and representative of the full range of opinion.

    Passionate it might well be. If you look at the results of the Assembly votes, you might feel that they do show a full range of opinion. And are you saying that passion in a debate trumps empirical evidence?

    If it had been run fairly and openly it would probably have been more
    similar to public opinion. The pro-choice bias of the staff and Chair… Perhaps it would have been similar to what is thought of as ‘public opinion’. Explain why ‘public opinion’ based on knee-jerk responses to questions is superior to the reasoned opinion of Assembly members who have sat through several sessions of information. And again, why you think that the Judge is not impartial?

    Did you watch all the webcasts of the sessions? Are you as fully appraised as the citizens?

  • Hugh Davison

    Ah, the gory details, on YouTube. Looking forward to that, are you?

  • Abucs

    That’s a strange thing to say.

  • Korhomme

    In what way will seeing what happens in most abortions actually help your decision making?

  • Abucs

    My decision making? What do you mean?

  • Hugh Davison

    Well, you seem to be looking forward to the day when all surgical procedures, including termination, will be televised as a public spectacle, or have I got that wrong?

  • Abucs

    Well surgical procedures are allowed to be shown on tv already except abortion in some countries.

    I expect the tv rules will continue to exclude abortion but of course it will get out at some stage. Am I looking forward to the day. Not really, no.

    There is some logic in your thinking but not a lot of morality. It is a bit like saying someone looks forward to the screening of a rape of tv so that people will see how bad it is.

  • Korhomme

    I mean exactly what I say. How does knowing the details of a very late stage abortion influence you view on abortion in general?

  • Trasna

    And why shouldn’t it be?

  • Abucs

    Well it is not a matter of my opinion. It is the opinion of those who at present do not think of abortion as barbaric.

  • Hugh Davison

    “There is some logic in your thinking but not a lot of morality. It is a bit like saying someone looks forward to the screening of a rape of tv so that people will see how bad it is.”

    I thought that was what YOU were trying to say about abortion. Which is why I asked for clarification.

  • Korhomme

    Do you mean the physical process of abortion as being barbaric, or the fact that abortion in general is barbaric?

  • Abucs

    The reality of the inevitability in the technological advancement of science showing the barbarity of abortion is very different to a certain individual looking forward to seeing all the gory details on Youtube. The two don’t immediately go together.

  • Abucs

    I think it is the extinguishing and lack of respect for life and the scientific advancement to see the reaction of that life struggle against either the poison or dismemberment (depending on the procedure) of abortion.

  • Hugh Davison

    I think we’re done here with this useless discussion. There was me wondering about the progress of science. Ah well.

  • Abucs

    ok then, but you didn’t ask any scientific questions.

  • Korhomme

    Poison? You mean the pills that are in common usage to treat other conditions? You might well have taken one of them.

    Did you see on the Citizens Assemby webcast the rather svelte American one-time abortionist who was now pro-life? Did you recognise the instruments — weapons — he was describing?

    Do you know what one of these, the cranioclast, was introduced for? It wasn’t what the svelte American said.

  • Abucs

    I didn’t see the webcast or the instruments. The poison I was referring to was the one that is strong enough and targeted to kill the human life. There are others I believe which force the life from the protection of the mother’s womb.

    Going out now.

  • Gavin Crowley

    High Court judges are not impartial. No one is. The problem is that High Court judges are immune from criticism and cannot be called out for their bias. They are for this reason unsuitable to chair such assemblies.
    The witnesses called to the assembly were biased strongly to one side of the debate. Experts with strong ideological positions should have been upfront about their bias. Experts with contrary positions were given little space.
    Assertions made could often only be challenged on a subsequent day, therefore ineffectively.
    Empirical evidence rarely plays any significant role in a referendum.
    Empirical evidence is damn all use in making a moral decision, when the evidence is being spun for propaganda and not presented on its merits.

  • Korhomme

    The early abortion pill has two separate components. The first is also used in the treatment of Cushing’s syndrome; the second is used as a protective for the gastric mucosa, the lining of the stomach. Both of these indications are fully regulated; in that sense they are ‘theraputic’ and not ‘poisons’.

    When you return, perhaps you would search for ‘craniocast’.

  • Korhomme

    Katy, you say I was talking about ‘near term abortions’. These make up a tiny, tiny number of the total. I understand that they usually comprise what is so often called ‘fatal foetal abnormality’. This isn’t a medical term. In such cases, I understand it to refer, for example, to Edward’s syndrome; in this there can be an absence of the liquor, the ‘waters’. Approaching term, the woman may have a transverse lie; it isn’t possible to change this to a head-first lie, as there is no liquor. It is simply impossible to give birth in this situation; the foetal head must engage with the pelvis, and thus stimulate the cervix to uptake into the lower uterine segment. So, there may be contractions against a partially opened cervix; these will be ineffectual, and the uterus will rupture, with the inevitable death of the mother. I say again; the death of the mother is otherwise inevitable. This is one of the really unpleasant realities of medical practice; but one to which we cannot turn our faces against.

  • Korhomme

    Judges are expected to weigh the evidence and come to a decision. If they are not impartial, then who is? I find this comment very disturbing; they are expected to consider the evidence produced before them, and to ignore their personal conceptions. Their decisions are not supposed to be based on what they might believe personally, rather on what they have heard.

    You say that the witnesses were unbalanced towards one side of the debate, and that experts with contrary positions were given little space. It behooves you to expand on this position, for other wise you sound like a ‘poor looser’.

    Are you really suggesting that empirical evidence ought not to play a part in a referendum, and rarely plays a significant role in a referendum? I find this quite staggering. Are you really suggesting that emotions are more important, in a debate such as this, than evidence? Or that ‘belief’ or ‘faith’ simply trumps the facts? For this is what is sounds like.

    You also say that experts with a strong ideological basis should be upfront with their bias. I quite agree. Look at the svelte American expert previously, and tell me that he was totally upfront with his bias; because he wasn’t. He described the use of a cranioclast as if it were normal in abortions.

    Now, I suggest you investigate exactly what a ‘cranioclast’ is and why it was introduced into medical practice before you go further.

  • Ian Rate

    Gavin, I was very sceptical about the Assembly when first set up and am amazed at the outcome.
    As it is the most polarising debate that has paralysed our country since 1983 I was sure it would be an inconclusive result.
    I don’t believe your allegation that it was badly run or biased, I imagine delegates would have walked or abstained/spoiled their votes if that was the case.
    That after all the deliberations the Assembly was willing to condone abortion in all cases or “on demand” makes me question whether or not I am as well informed as I thought I was.

    Perhaps you are or ought to be in the same boat?

    I believe that Enda Kenny is wandering around muttering “Bastards took my can, where’s my can?”
    This will hasten his long overdue resignation

  • Gavin Crowley

    It is endlessly disappointing that empirical evidence gets such little attention during referendums, and that it’s weaponised so often. I have lost all respect for the referendum process. It usually becomes a battle of turnout, with the passionate and mobilised side edging it, or turning an unassailable lead into a narrow victory.

    I had high hopes for the Citizens’ Assembly process. The first one went badly – the politician members pulled the strings and tainted the process. The chair was a politician. This time around the politicians were omitted and a judge put in the chair. Next time there’ll need to be some kind of oversight of the rules and procedures. The chair can’t have impunity and the staff under her need to be her responsibility. There was a lot of ‘we don’t blame her for the bias’. So it’s the staff’s fault, or she’s not in control of them?Perhaps in time we’ll get the process right.

    We agree on being upfront with bias.

    On judges. We have appeal courts because judges make mistakes, or conduct cases inappropriately. Judges are impeached. Trump surely didn’t appoint Gorsuch for his pure impartiality. You are too easily disturbed.

    The Chair determined that the term ‘FFA’ would be used. As you have pointed out this is a legal term, not a medical one. It shows a bias towards seeing abortion as a legal rather than a medical issue. It also shows disrespect for the evidence that FFA has been used in many cases that were not subsequently fatal. The eminent judge pointed to irrelevant issues, like the presence of FFA in international documents, as justification. This was a low standard of work from her. (She ignored empirical evidence in favour of political rhetoric)

    On imbalance, this article from February pretty much sets out the stall.
    [ http://irishcatholic.ie/article/citizens’-assembly-abortion-looks-increasingly-foregone-conclusion ]
    It was not until March that an effort was made to provide some balance. Women who changed their minds, didn’t have an abortion, and are happy with that decision – were excluded completely.

    All that being said, it was probably better than we could have expected from a Dáil committee.

  • Gavin Crowley

    The final ballot paper was very unclear on this, but the previous one spoke of ‘termination’ not ‘abortion’. Those who voted for ‘terminations’ after viability may have envisaged the child being killed, or the child being born prematurely and every effort being made to keep him/her alive. Even the pope would have voted for no limit on vote 1 ‘Real and substantial physical risk to life of woman’ – if there is a best effort to preserve the child’s life. But if that means partial birth abortion, no.
    Art 40.3.2 would still provide some protection, and limit the Oireachtas. This may also have been in their minds.
    It’s difficult to interpret the result when the question is ambiguous. I’m sure there was an effort to remove ambiguity, but why not clarify that on the ballot, if even just to avoid journalists reporting an ‘abortion’ result rather than a ‘termination’ result?

  • Abucs
  • Korhomme

    The link to the Irish Catholic brings up a ‘page not found’ message.

  • Korhomme

    What am I to get from these links?

    Anything that a human can ingest is a poison if enough is taken.

  • Jim M

    It is far better not to legislate for ‘rape exceptions’. This is partly why I believe twelve weeks is a good step, as most conceptions-by-rape could be ended in this time without the woman having to jump through any hoops. The recent debacle over child tax credits should have taught us that ‘rape exceptions’ are a legal and bureaucratic nightmare that should be avoided.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘SF won’t accept the position of the Citizens Assembly because it allows for abortion on request, whilst the SF position is abortion can only be provided in cases of rape, incest or a fatal condition for the foetus/unborn.’
    That doesn’t sound very pragressive. Are you sure about this?

  • Old Mortality

    Of course. No woman would ever lie about rape.

  • Korhomme

    It does seem odd that the state would build a hospital and then give it to a religious order, the people who own the land on which the building is erected.

    I think that this reflects Irish Land Law, that is, the building belongs to the owner of the land. This has caused problems in the north. A farmer allows a son to build a house in a corner of a field. The son pays for the building, but the father still owns the land. When the father dies, both the field and the house are part of his estate, and therefore can be chargeable to Inheritance Duty/Estate Duty/Capital Transfer Tax.

    I’m not entirely clear about how land lease works; the ultimate owner of the land in this doesn’t own any building on it (I think). Any lawyers around who could clarify this?

    The state could buy the land from the religious, but this is likely to be very expensive.

  • john millar

    “A Catholic ethos hospital, I would imagine. The patient could get it done elsewhere.”

    Where is the “elsewhere”

  • lizmcneill

    If you think abortion is murder for religious reasons, shouldn’t you be doing sterilisations for free? Pregnancy never exists, no abortion.

  • Korhomme

    Nope. This is the conflict between ‘logic’ and ‘theology’.

    Theology argues that one of the duties of a good Christian is to increase the population of Heaven. This is accomplished not only by living a good, pure, chaste life free from sin, but by procreation.

    The Church has repeated this over the centuries, even if it is a bit ‘watered down’ as here, from Vincent Nichols, then the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster who reiterated the Church’s teaching a few years ago:

    The moral teaching of the church is that ‘proper use of our sexual faculty is within a marriage, between a man and a woman, open to the procreation and nurturing of new human life’.

    Thus, the Church accepts that sex is a sin, and so to have sex it requires people to obtain a licence — we call it ‘marriage’.

    Further, anything that interferes with procreation is immoral and thus cannot be permitted; birth control in any form, as well as abortion, is simply out. The Church teaches that ‘life’ begins at the moment of fertilization of the ovum by the sperm, even before this implants into the uterus. Therefore, even the ‘morning after’ pill is proscribed.

    This view of the role of the Christian took an extreme form in Ireland at least until the 1950s. I found it hard to believe, but I’ve heard this from several sources. Then, if a woman was advised a hysterectomy by her gynaecologist, the woman had to seek permission from her priest because this would permanently render her sterile, so she could not function as a good Christian.

    Even more remarkably, though again I’m assured that this did happen: sometimes the priest would refuse permission.

  • Granni Trixie

    You’ve captured the climate of the times in one – like the Pet Shop Boys say, “it’s a sin” (most things to do with sexuality).
    I would also factor in the cult of the Virgin Mary into the context where you trace ideas around a woman body and no sex outside marriage.

    I retain holy pictures from school retreats where I wrote out prayers “to make me like Mary” . You can see where this was going ….

  • Abucs

    and directed towards a vulnerable, growing baby, very little is needed to kill in a barbaric fashion.

  • Korhomme

    Mention of the Virgin Mary takes me off on a theological tangent. Christianity is said to be a monotheistic religion, like the other Abrahamic religions of Judaism and Islam. And yet there is the ‘three-in-one’ God surrounded by the Virgin, with assorted archangels and saints and the blessed nearby. That sounds more like the polytheistic Greek idea, one chap in charge and lots of minor gods who can influence him.

  • Barneyt

    More sentiment than sense from me I’m afraid. Maybe if I will it, it will happen.

  • Gavin Crowley

    They used an apostrophe in the URL after citizens’
    It doesn’t copy well, hopefully this time.
    http://irishcatholic.ie/article/citizens’-assembly-abortion-looks-increasingly-foregone-conclusion

  • Gavin Crowley

    Nope. Disqus seems to modify it after posting.
    If you click on the link and paste this apostrophe ’ to replace the gap in the URL after citizen, then it works for me.
    I didn’t realise that apostrophes could even be included in a valid URL.

  • Korhomme

    I found it eventually; I copied it into Scrivener and was able to open it from there. Disqus modifies it quite a bit, removing stuff around the apostrophe..

    I suppose that it if seems that an inquiry is going to produce an answer which isn’t the one you want, then criticising the composition of the inquiry or the chair is a standard response. How could ‘balance’ be better achieved without the process taking years? An equal number of pro and anti presentations? Even that might be questionable if one side simply repeats the same arguments and t’other presents differing ones.

    At this stage, we have to sit back and wait for the judge’s report; politicians aren’t likely to do much before reading it.

  • aquifer

    Not that things here are much better. Newton Emerson in top form in the Irish TImes:
    http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/newton-emerson-small-ni-hospitals-are-doomed-dangerous-1.3062274

  • Korhomme

    That link still didn’t work, but I did find the article. Even if I paste the link as plain text, Disqus converts it to a link and modifies it.

    I did reply earlier, it seems to have vanished. I wondered how any such process would be ‘balanced’ or whether any group might say there was bias.