RHM sends message of solidarity to those in Ireland campaigning against the 8th Amendment and for women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. We support the call for demonstrations across the world − 20 August
It took the appalling and easily preventable death of Savita Halappanavar for the Irish government to find the courage to agree to change the Irish abortion law. However, despite the new law making provision for life-saving abortion, it has actually be used against a woman instead, the very first woman to seek an abortion under it − a young woman, 18 years old, an asylum seeker, with an undeniable case. The way she was treated, and the multiple ways in which her rights were violated, is beyond shocking.
Why the Irish Attorney-General failed to intervene on behalf of the young woman needs to be explained. On what legal grounds the Health Service Executive considered it their right to seek a court order to forcibly hydrate the young woman needs to be explained as well. The court judgement giving such permission and also giving permission for a forced caesarean section must be challenged after the fact; it sets an unethical, unconscionable precedent.
The hospital department in question should be shut down for multiple violations of this young woman’s human rights, for refusing to implement the abortion law, and for not referring her on to medical professionals who would have allowed an abortion in line with the new law. The medical professionals who committed these violations should have their right to practise medicine removed.
The new law was never going to help more than a few women every year, but to use it to violate – repeatedly − a young woman’s bodily integrity and autonomy, is akin to judicial and medical rape. It should be treated as a form of torture, and punished.
The government must allow a referendum on the 8th amendment. As with Savita, this case shows it is impossible to address the rights of the woman and the fetus equally. The law’s ambiguity cannot be allowed to stand. Meanwhile, doctors and psychiatrists in Ireland who are committed to women’s health and rights need to make themselves available for women in cases such as this one, who will otherwise have nowhere to turn for help when it is needed.
Support the rallies in:
Dublin - Wednesday 20th August, 18.00, beside The Spire
Galway - We are not vessels! Repeal the 8th Amendment! Wednesday 20th August at 18:00
Eyre Square, Galway City
Cork – Wednesday 18.00, Courthouse
Limerick Pro Choice will be holding an Open Meeting this Wednesday 20th August at 20:00 pm in the Cellar Door.
Belfast – Protest at the treatment of suicidal woman seeking abortion. Wednesday at 18.00
Belfast City Hall
Derry – Guildhall. Wednesday at 18.00
London - Irish Embassy 17 Grosvenor Place, London SW1X 7HR. Wednesday at 18.00
Berlin – Irish Embassy. Wednesday at 18.30
Auckland – Consulate General of Ireland. Wednesday 8.15 a.m.
History: 18 year old asylum seeker in Ireland raped, refused an abortion, threatened suicide, went on hunger and liquid strike, court order obtained by doctors to forcibly hydrate her and do a forced caesarean section at 24-25 weeks of pregnancy.
This article from the Irish Times includes the woman’s own description of her treatment.