This is what kicked it all off; ABC v Ireland at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The court ruled in favour of ‘C’, a cancer patient who said she was unclear whether she could have an abortion in Ireland if her pregnancy affected her cancer and became life-threatening. Here are some little known facts about that case: C did not have cancer at the time of her abortion; she had completed therapy for a “rare form of cancer” and was in remission.
She decided to have an abortion because she was unsure if, and how, the pregnancy would affect her on the off-chance that her cancer relapses. She said she was unsure because her GP could not provide her with sufficient information on her condition. Not surprising, this is not a General Practitioners area. No evidence was offered as to whether she sought advice from a gynae-oncologist, who specializes in cancer in pregnancy, and who would have given her all the info she required for her hypothetical scenario. In fact this case heard no medical evidence whatsoever. (1)
A vague case with a questionable story that heard no medical evidence and was fought by an Planned Parenthood lawyer from America. Wait, an American interfering with Irish abortion laws? I thought that wasn’t allowed? Well it happened. And she was paid with your taxes.
The judges in the ECHR ruled that Ireland should clarify whether, and under which circumstances, an abortion may be performed to save the life of a pregnant woman. CLAR-IF-Y. Not legalize. They said that this clarification can be done by a “legislative or regulatory regime”. Legislation OR regulation. Or do nothing. The ECHR ruling could be ignored altogether and without penalty. Many rulings have been ignored by other Governments. But the Irish Government doesn’t want you to know that. Instead they have spun the line that they are obliged to legislate because of this ruling and furthermore that they are obliged to legislate for the ruling in the X Case. Rubbish. Firstly the Court said to clarify the situation,which can be done by regulations (if we want) and secondly, the ruling is not binding, so it can be ignored (if we want). Enough of the spin, this ruling did not oblige Ireland, in any way, to legislate for the X Case.
A doctor who signed a statement supporting abortion legislation 20 years previously
An associate of the Doctors for Choice group
A university lecturer who is on record saying the embryo is not a person
A Senior Counsel who worked on the X Case to establish a legal right to abortion in Ireland
Question: How do you know a politician is lying?
Answer: Their lips are moving.
Let’s be clear about this: In 2011 Fine Gael made a pre-election promise to the Irish electorate that they would not legislate for abortion. (2) They were subsequently elected with a landslide victory. Phil Hogan, the Director of Elections for Fine Gael wrote from the General Election HQ; “Fine Gael is opposed to the legalisation of abortion”. Really Phil. Simon Harris TD sent an “anxious email” to Pro-Life Campaign days before the election; “I am happy and proud to assure you I am pro-life. Please be assured of my support. I need No1 votes on Friday so I can be in a position to support these positions in Dail Eireann”. (3) Really Simon. Last time I checked, voting for a bill that allows abortion through all nine months of pregnancy is not pro-life.
Politicians break promises all the time, nothing new here. What’s more disturbing here is when a broken promise costs the life of an innocent human being.
Convince the people that legalising abortion is all about saving women’s lives. It’s about protecting women. Without abortion women will die, and those who are opposed to abortion legislation don’t care if they do. This kind of rhetoric has been spun so much one would be forgiven for thinking abortion is the cure for every illness under the sun.
The facts remain; no pro-life person is against any treatment that is needed to save a woman’s life in pregnancy. We support this treatment even if it risks the life of the baby, and we agree with Dr Sam Coulter Smyth Master of the Rotunda Hospital that these treatments are not considered as abortions. We support the two patient model, whereby a doctor does everything he or she needs to do to preserve the life of the woman, while doing everything he or she can do to preserve the life of the baby. And this is what happens in Ireland. Ireland is an extremely safe place for mothers. Our maternal death rate of 8 deaths per 100,000 births (4) is one of the lowest in the world. Lower than the UK, lower than the USA. We also know from UK statistics that women are not leaving Ireland to access life-saving treatment abroad (5).
So what is the problem? At this juncture it would be helpful to note the following statement which originated in Dublin and has been signed by over 200 Obstetricians from Ireland and abroad (6) : “As experienced practitioners and researchers in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion – the purposeful destruction of the unborn child – is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman. We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion, and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child. We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women.”
Perhaps the most dishonest, disrespectful and hysterical point in the abortion debate was the exploitation of the death of Savita Halappanavar in order to progress the campaign to legalise abortion. (7).
Savita died from E.coli ESBL septicaeamia. That’s according to her official death certificate. According to Kitty Holland she died because she was ‘denied a termination’ and because of a supposed ‘Catholic ethos’ that exists in Irish hospitals. She may not have said it quite as direct as this but she didn’t need to, the spin was there. Never have I seen quotation marks used so advantageously than in that infamous Irish Times headline: “Woman ‘denied a termination’ dies in hospital”. She may as well have illuminated, underlined, italicised and put ‘denied a termination’ in bold just to make sure this story became an abortion controversy.
Two things contributed to the death of Savita Halappanavar. One was bad luck and the other was bad procedure. Savita contracted an infection caused by a severely resistant strain of E.coli known as ESBL. This means that there are very few antibiotics available that will kill this bacteria. These heavy-duty antibiotics would never be commenced as the initial antibiotic because doctors would have no reason to suspect such a rare super-bug. This means that,while the doctors wait to identify what kind of bacteria is causing the infection (a process that can take up to three days), the infection is festering and spreading in the body as the antibiotics given to fight the infection would be as good as giving water; they simply don’t work against ESBL.This was the case with Savita. It was, unfortunately, very bad luck that she contracted an infection of this nature and it seems she contracted it prior to her admission into hospital.
The second contributor was that her diagnosis of sepsis was missed by staff. A blood test on admission showing infection was not followed up or repeated and her vital signs indicating sepsis were not acted upon because of poor communication. In subsequent, but perhaps too-little-too-late reporting, the Irish Times admits that “had four-hourly measurements of pulse, blood pressure, temperature and respiratory rate been carried out in accordance with guidelines..then the clinical team would have reacted more promptly”. (8)
This is unfortunately bad practice and this led to a delay in making the diagnosis. Dr Peter Boylan, the expert witness to the coroner’s inquest, says in his submission that her signs on Tuesday at 7pm were “in hindsight” suggestive of a developing chorioamnionitis. The treatment of a chorioamnionitis is antibiotics and removal of the source of sepsis (placenta and amniotic sac). Unfortunately for Savita however, the antibiotic she was on was never going to work and the diagnosis at that time was missed. This may be poor performance, but let’s not forget that according to the UK report on sepsis in pregnancy, sepsis is often missed, it is insidious in onset, spreads quickly and is a “silent killer”. It is the number one cause of maternal death in the UK where abortion is legal. (9) But this extremely relevant information does not make it into the mainstream media. Instead the name Savita Halappanavar will forever be followed by the line “the Indian woman who died after being ‘denied a termination’”. Good one Kitty.
They were described as a “farce” by one member of the Oireachtas committee. The Minster of Health was criticised for “running out of the chamber” before the hearings even began. (10) It looked like the evidence was going to be ignored before it was even presented. An exercise in time -wasting. Every invited psychiatrist testified that abortion is not a treatment for suicidal ideation. The countries leading suicide researcher Prof Kevin Malone warned that the bill could ‘normalise suicide’. Every invited obstetrician testified that they do not withhold any treatment during pregnancy if a woman needs it to save her life. The Masters of two maternity hospitals said that neither of them knew of a case where a woman in Ireland had died because treatment was withheld.
Dr Sam Coulter Smyth, Master of the Rotunda Hospital, the country’s busiest maternity hospital, said that there was “no evidence” to treat suicide with abortion and that he and his consultant colleagues would have major concerns with legalising abortion on suicide grounds. But what was the point of all this? The January hearings had finished maybe 5 minitues before the Minister of Health addressed the room and said the Government was committed to legislation. And he had not even been there for the hearings. What a sham. Everything that was presented, all of the problems with the bill, all the medical evidence given by experts was ignored. It didn’t even go in one ear, let alone out the other. Save your breath experts, you may as well be talking to the wall.
Whatever you do, do not talk about the actual Bill. In fact, do not even talk about abortion. Give the bill a very nice name like “Protection of Life in Pregnancy Bill”. Don’t mention abortion! Talk about everything else except abortion; the Catholic Church, abuse scandals, rosaries, gay rights, nasty emails, crazy pro-lifers. Tell the world about every negative comment you receive about your legalisation of abortion but don’t produce any evidence (Regina Doherty TD) (11).
Tell the world about these horrible people tormenting you with holy medals and brown scapulars (Enda Kenny) (12).
Talk about everything and anything else under the sun so you won’t have to talk about what’s in the Bill. So you won’t have to talk about the fact that it allows abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. So you won’t have to acknowledge that abortion is not a treatment for suicidal ideation. So you won’t have to be reminded that you are openly breaking your pre-election promise that you would not legislate for abortion.
So you won’t have to talk about the fact that you propose forced premature delivery of a healthy baby, subjecting them to all complications of prematurity, which they must then live with in state custody. Say anything to deflect the attention away from the content of the Bill and towards the horrible pro-lifers who are exposing what you are really doing. And remember to keep insisting you are 100% pro-life while you legislate for abortion. Keep up your fake pro-life image as you literally push the button to legalise abortion. You couldn’t make this stuff up!
If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times. “This is a very restrictive piece of legislation”. “This bill won’t open the floodgates for abortion”. “This bill only clarifies what is already existing law”. “This isn’t about taking the first step towards more liberal abortion”. Really? Not according to to Aodhan O’Riordan TD and Anne Ferris TD who were more a lot more truthful about what’s really involved, albeit not realizing that they were blowing the lid on the Government. (13)
In secretly taped conversations that were published in the Sunday Independent, we get to hear what’s really going on with the abortion bill: this is a “starting point” says O’Riordan but admits he wouldn’t state this publicly. Ferris said “we get the first part done and we move on to the next bit”. But careful not to say this in public! Be sure to go along with what Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore are saying that the bill is very restrictive. O’Riordan explains how to do this: “I’m on the radio and somebody says to me ‘it’s a starting point for abortion on demand’ I’m gonna say ‘No of course it isn’t – it is what it is”. Wow Aodhan, thanks for the lesson in how to be deceiving liar.
Whether Eamon Gilmore has him on a leash or whether he’s on his own personal abortion crusade Enda Kenny has shown just what kind of a leader he really is. He isn’t one. He is an autocratic ruler who dictates to his party colleagues – it’s my way or the high way. In a disturbing display of tyrannical ruling he applied the whip to an issue as conscientious as abortion, forcing his party colleagues to vote against their conscience or face being thrown out of the parliamentary party and stripped of all their ministerial duties.
So let’s get this straight; a candidate tells his or her electorate that they are not going to legislate for abortion if they get elected. They subsequently get elected and are then threatened with expulsion by the party ‘leader’ for doing exactly what they told the electorate they were going to do. What kind of politics is that? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Fascism as “a political philosophy that stands for an autocratic government, headed by a dictatorial leader”. An autocratic government and a dictatorial leader. I’ll let you draw the parallels.
In reality however, these politicians don’t end up doing what they said they were going to do. They crumble under Enda Kenny’s iron fist and, and out of fear of being turfed out into the political wilderness, all but 5 of them vote for a flawed and medically unsound abortion bill. This is all after a few drinks in the Dail bar and some ‘horseplay’ in the Dail chambers. (14).
Such is the state of Irish politics. The Dail is a circus full of clowns with one of them holding the ringmasters whip. It all may seem like ‘horseplay’ to them, but it is now the unborn child who pays the ultimate price for their stupidity, lies, deception, and bullying.
Dr Eoghan De Faoite is a medical doctor and a pro-life advocate