Legislate for X Now, No restrictions that make abortion unavailable

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Health, Women's Rights

Statement 13 Feb 2013

Clare Daly TD, Joan Collins TD.

Today’s leaked report of the draft HSE investigation into the death of
Savita Halappanavar contains shocking confirmation of what was
reported at the time of her death  and more.

Commenting on the leaks in the press, Joan Collins said:

The first person to see this report should have been Praveen
Halappanavar. We hope this has happened and that he has not read about
it in the papers. It is unacceptable that a report which was
apparently concluded six weeks ago should be delayed for another ten
days before being published.

The leaks from this report confirm that a dying fetus was given
priority over an increasing risk to Savita’s life. It says that even
before her request for an abortion, ‘the clinical situation indicated
a significant and increasing risk to the mother’; and that ‘… septic
shock could have been avoided by an earlier termination knowing that
without a termination  the prognosis for the fetus and potentially
for the patient was poor’.

Yet a consultant is quoted as saying our hands were tied by the
current legal situation as long as there was a fetal heartbeat and no
immediate risk to the woman’s life.

Clare Daly said:

Whatever the interpretation of current guidelines by the doctors
concerned, this must never happen again. There must be legislation so
that doctors can perform abortions when pregnancy puts a woman’s life
at risk. And as the Chief Justice said in the X Case ruling, that risk
should not have to be ‘immediate or inevitable’ in order for abortion
to be approved.

The forthcoming legislation must not have restrictions so that
abortion is unavailable in practice. The opinion of no more than two
medical practitioners should be sufficient to approve abortion
either on grounds of physical risk to life or risk of suicide.
Abortion should be available throughout the country as near as
possible to women’s homes and not restricted to just a few
hospitals. And abortion should be available if a fetus has an
abnormality that means it cannot survive.

Legislation for X might have saved Savita’s life. But what her death
shows is that abortion must be available if a pregnancy puts a woman’s
health at risk. There is overwhelming popular support for abortion in
such situations, as well as for rape and incest, or fatal fetal
abnormality. The most recent poll shows 60% support for ‘a woman’s
right to choose’. Abortion in these circumstances, which we support,
requires the repeal of Art 40.3.3 of the Constitution.

Savita’s unnecessary death must not be the fate of other women. There
must be no more delays in legislating to the X case. Once that’s in
place we will be campaigning for the repeal of Art 40.3.3 and the
introduction of free, safe, legal abortion in Ireland.