Women don’t matter

One might have thought the abortion situation would improve after the tragic, pointless, cruel death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012, but apparently any change at all is going to be tiny, slow, and resisted every step of the way.

The Guardian got its hands on a copy of new guidelines issued to Irish doctors. The guidelines stink.

Pregnant women in Ireland could be blocked from having an abortion even if they are at risk of suicide after conceiving as a result of rape or incest, under new guidelines issued to Irish doctors.

Experts warned that the Guidance Document for Health Professionals, which has yet to be made public but has been obtained by the Guardian, will give power to doctors, obstetricians and psychiatrists to prevent vulnerable women from terminating their pregnancies.

Some clinicians, including one of the Irish Republic’s leading psychiatrists, said the rules would leave women “at the mercy of a local, moral and political lottery”. Veronica O’Keane, professor of psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin, said a woman could potentially have to see up to seven medical experts before getting a decision on her right to an abortion.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee, which has also been shown the document, has described the guidance on dealing with women contemplating suicide as “an excessive degree of scrutiny by medical professionals”.

It’s the same old thing, that causes the mist of red rage to descend – the way women are treated as public property, subject to meddling by armies of “professionals” and amateurs alike. The woman has no rights, it’s only the process in her abdomen that has rights.

Pro-choice doctors are also concerned that the language in the first few pages of the guidelines is more stridently anti-abortion than last year’s law. In its introduction, the document states that “the purpose of this act is to restate the general prohibition on abortion in Ireland”. Medical professionals are also advised on the first page that the act provides “a clear criminal prohibition on abortion”.

No prison break for women. No way no how, no never.

On page 10, a diagram explaining the procedure for applying for a termination makes clear to Irish doctors that the initial referral for women including those with “suicidal intent” begins with her own GP.

If the GP agrees, he or she will refer the woman to three doctors – including one obstetrician and two psychiatrists – who will decide whether there is a real risk to the woman’s life through suicide. If her request is rejected, she will go through an appeal system involving another two psychiatrists and another obstetrician.

At least four, and maybe seven – all because she doesn’t want to remain pregnant.

[Veronica] O’Keane, a consultant psychiatrist for more than 21 years, said because there was no national body to rule on these cases vulnerable women were left “at the mercy of a local, moral and political lottery. They could come up against anti-choice physicians who in effect become conscientious obstructors to abortion.”

She added: “The repeated examination of a woman’s mental state by at least four doctors, and possibly seven, the repeated questioning specifically about suicidal ideation and intent, will not only be overly invasive, confusing and distressing emotionally, it will also be time-consuming in a period of crisis when a suicidal woman needs access to a termination as soon as possible.”

Yes but they don’t care about the woman, they care only about the process in the woman’s abdomen. Women don’t matter.


  1. culuriel says

    IIRC, to qualify for assisted suicide here in some US States, you just need two medical opinions. Yet, up to 7 for an abortion? So, an embryo or fetus is considered more important than the woman carrying it? Who am I kidding, of course the Catholic Church thinks that way.

  2. badgersdaughter says

    I live in Ireland. I am a recent immigrant (my husband is an Irish citizen). If I were to be raped and to fall pregnant from it, I would no doubt be suicidally depressed. My husband and I do not want children, especially a child conceived by rape. One of my bad past experiences involved giving up a baby from an abusive relationship, back when I was against abortion, and I don’t want to relive that. Unfortunately, if I were to go through this multi-level appeals process, I would doubtless have to relate the bad experiences of the past to some judgmental Catholic obstetricians, and confess that I am not religious. I can only imagine how the whole thing could affect my legal residency or a future application for citizenship. Ugh.

  3. cactuswren says

    Woman? What woman? There’s only a freestanding appliance called “the womb”, and what need is there for concern about “the womb”? “The womb” has no rights. “The womb” has no agency, no needs or desires of its own. No one harbors any concern for what “the womb” may want.

  4. staceyjw says

    The ONLY time females have any rights are when they are still fetuses. Once they are born, forget all about rights.

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