Savita may still have died even if the current draft legislation for X was in place.
Last night the government published the Heads of Bills for legislation on X, twenty-one years and two referendums later. While the move is welcomed as a first step towards recognising a woman’s right to life, health and bodily autonomy it easily disappoints. A feeling you’ve became more than familiar with when you think of the current FG/Labour coalition.
There is so much wrong with this draft legislation. Particularly alarming is the need for at least three, and as many as six, doctors assess whether a woman is suicidal or not. It is very likely that suicidal women with the means will continue to travel to the UK to secure safe, legal abortions and those that can’t will run the gauntlet of ‘proving’ they are genuine. ‘Cos us ladies with our ‘malady of the womb’ can get very emotional and manipulative. So it is the poor and those without visas who will be hit most. There is no concession for women who have been raped or have survived incest but aren’t suicidal. Perhaps FG/Labour been listening to too many Irish ballads where a woman losing her ‘honour’ is cause enough to die.
In fact the draft has a provision that ‘allows any person who believes they have a right to take action’ to challenge the decision to terminate in court. Yep, drawing out the unwanted pregnancy longer, running the risk of later term abortions and torturing the woman further. One could imagine American bigots are already wiring in money for the court cases.
The draft legislation repeals sections 58 & 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Persons Act which criminalised abortion. At first glance you’d welcome the repeal of Victorian legislation and replacing it with something more modern. Except it isn’t.
The draft legislation will replace the maximum five years imprisonment a woman could face for self-administering an abortion to fourteen. So while they lowered the minimum penalty to a fine they have left it open for some right-wing, uber-Catholic judge to lock you up for ten years for using the abortion pill.
The third worrying element of this white-wash is that it may not have saved Savita Halappanavar’s life. The legislation continues to differentiate between life and health. Dr. Peter Boylan clearly stated that Savita’s life would have been saved if she was offered an abortion when she first requested it. Yet, at that stage only Savita’s health was endangered, including the mental trauma of continuing to carry a child she knew was dying. By the time that Savita’s life was endangered, as sepsis took hold of her body, she was already expelling the now dead foetus.
Well done Kenny, O’Reilly and Gilmore you couldn’t have messed it up much more! But I suppose this is what happens when you procrastinate…for TWENTY-ONE YEARS!