Savitha was forced to carry a dying foetus to the point it killed her. She lived in the pro-life utopia of Ireland, where people were defending the right to exist of ectopic pregnancies.
[TW – Abortion]
A young immigrant to Ireland who cannot be named for legal reasons was refused an abortion despite being suicidal. She was legally forced to give birth by Caesarean Section. Post Savitha, the laws were amended to allow for increased abortion but access is far from universal and this case shows precisely why. She was forced to carry the child and when she threatened a hunger strike to protest the decision, the local health authorities obtained a court order to deliver the baby prematurely.
At 25 weeks.
This was the first proper test of the 2013 Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act, which allows for limited abortions. The law allows abortions where the woman’s life would be in danger. The law provides for cases where the woman is suicidal or in cases of rape and incest. But as I said before? The law is a paper tiger, a pro-life law wrapped in such exceptional circumstances that access to abortion is very hard.
In the UK? The law is clear. Abortions are legal up to 24 weeks after which an abortion is allowed on limited grounds in order to save the life of the mother, prevent injury, to stop the birth of a non-viable foetus and protect a woman’s mental health and for cases like rape and incest. By contrast? The medical guidelines given to Irish doctors can obstruct women seeking abortions for mental health reasons. In many cases? A woman needing an abortion would require approval from up to seven experts.
Thousands of women in Ireland are at risk of being refused abortions in the Republic of Ireland or the alternative of termination in the UK. In this case the woman’s poor grasp of English and unawareness of her rights under Irish law lead to her not using the right of transit. Groups such as the Travellers are at particular risk due to inherent bigotry compounding access.
So far Lawyers for Choice have been active and making submissions to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women on the major flaws of new legislation. In the limited circumstances where abortion is permitted the arbiter of abortion are doctors operating under faulty guidelines rather than the widely accepted rules of medicine which states that women should have access to abortions. In Ireland? Women who wish for an abortion have an array of social, financial and legislative penalties to punish women who seek termination.
This may be the second time this year that the UN has criticised the pro-life Irish state.
If anything? The forcing of a suicidal woman who does not wish to carry a child through a panel of seven doctors is mental torment and the usage of C-Section as a tool of oppression is harmful to the patient, against the spirit of the operation (to save and reduce trauma to women in specific cases) and is a barbaric. This is not the actions of a productive dialogue on women’s healthcare but of people who have set out to deny women healthcare because of their faith.
And this is the faith that forced the birth of a 25 week old foetus demonstrating that they do not care about the quality of life. They risked everything a 25 week old premature baby has to face from lung damage to neurological defects to death in order to protect their religious belief that women shouldn’t have access to healthcare.
Ireland currently has the dubious honour of being a country where it is harder to get an abortion than India.