WorldbyStorm, in a comment on my Right to Travel post yesterday, made a very interesting point.
â€œInterestingly even Breda Oâ€™Brien in the Irish Times was clear that Miss D should not be forced to full term. My own feeling is, and Iâ€™d be strongly in agreement with you that there are valid discussions to be had here, that at least the tone of the argument has improved since the 1980s. Thatâ€™s no small thing.â€
Has the crisis over the right of Miss D to travel â€“ I should mention at this point that, according to the High Court judgement, I canâ€™t say â€˜travel to have an abortionâ€™ as the case was only about the HSEs right to get a district court order to prevent her from simply traveling out of their jurisdiction) - and the public response to her plight changed the tone of the arguments surrounding the right, in some circumstance, to have an abortion in this country?
My simple answer is yes - well maybe.
It seems that as more of these specific cases involving crisis pregnancies are settled by protracted court cases rather than getting resolved through a legislative mechanism, then many more people will become sympathetic to the argument that these individual women must be helped, rather than the more abstract arguments surrounding the right or rather wrongs of abortion and the constitutional rights of the unborn.
However, the problem is that this government, and indeed most of the major parties in opposition, might like to keep things the way they are for as long as possible.
This matter, in a sense, has been resolved without a constitution crisis. The status quo has been maintained.
Miss D is allowed to travel to England to have an abortion, and in the individual circumstances of the case itâ€™s clear that it would have been far too cruel to prevent her from doing so. The judgment of course, was based not on the apparent cruelty, although it was acknowledged, but rather on the opinion that there was no law preventing her from traveling.
Mr Justice Liam McKechnie wording, however, subtly sidestepped the real fact of the matter. Miss D is allowed to have an abortion while under the authority of the HSE, just not in this country.
Much has been said about the distress Miss D has suffered as a result of having to take this case. But as Rosie Toner, director of counselling services at the Irish Family Planning Association says in the Irish Times today (sub req), Miss Dâ€™s distress isnâ€™t over yet.
â€œAlthough abortion clinics in the UK are sympathetic to Irish women with fatal foetal anomalies, many recognise that their services are not always appropriate.
Emotional and family support services are not routinely available. Chaplaincy support for grieving women and their partners is absent. Funeral or burial services are difficult to arrange, if not impossible. The procedure can also be more complicated due to foetal defects and because it generally takes place later in pregnancy.â€
Toner also points out that the possibility to intervene to prevent any future recurrence is not available because there is no continuum of care between the medical clinic in Britain and her medical team in Ireland which would allow information about the woman medical condition to be shared.
Itâ€™s an excellent article and also points out how the state is continuing to fund organizations that purport to give full information to women with crisis pregnancies while purposely preventing those women from exploring all available options.
â€œFor two years, Cura - which only provides information on adoption and parenting options - has refused to pass on details to women about other services where they could secure information about termination services. Their funding remains intact.â€
Curiously, Dr Berry Kiely of the Pro-Life Campaign reacted to the judgment yesterday with the comment:
“This tragic case also reminds us of the urgent obligation on society to ensure that every possible support is put in place so that no woman feels abortion is the only option open to her.”
It would seem to be that what she is really trying to say is that â€œno woman feels abortion is an option open to her.”
Anecdotally, how many of us have heard about the loneliness, sense of isolation, guilt and conflicts of emotions that woman feel when they have to attend, usually over a weekend or overnight trip, a clinic in England to have a termination? They often have to deal with it alone, or if theyâ€™re lucky with a partner or friend.
There are those of course, who would show no sympathy in this regard. But if we acknowledge just how much more distressing it is for those women foetal anomaly who, having made the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy, are forced to get on a plane or boat and have a procedure that, but for the weakness of politicians prevents them from having it in a maternity hospital in their own country.
Of course, I realize now that, as Iâ€™ve written this, that my own tone has gone from an attempt to remain calm and objective to one that is more shrill and emotional.