Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Labour abortion deception: Long term straregy is abortion on demand

Two Labour TDs who thought they were being interviewed by a pro-choice reporter admitted that the legislation currently under discussion in the Irish parliament to introduce abortion is only the beginning, and that the ultimate goal is a fully liberalised abortion regime like that of the UK.
A report in the Irish Independent last Sunday quotes Labour’s Aodhan O’Riordain, who said that legislating for abortion based on the infamous X Case is only a wedge to force open the door.
O’Riordain, who did not know his comments were being recorded, said the current bill legislating on the X Case is just “a starting point”. “Once you get that,” he said, “then you can move.”
He added that deceiving the public on the government’s real intentions is part of the plan. “Of course if I’m on the radio and somebody says to me, ‘It’s a starting point for abortion on demand,’ I'm gonna say, ‘No, of course it isn't – it is what it is.’”
The plan was confirmed by Wicklow TD Anne Ferris, also with Labour, who said, “We will legislate certainly for what the European Court has told us to and then we can go further than that . . . we get the first part done and then we will go on to the next bit.”
Ferris then added, “People aren’t going to vote Fianna Fail back into power again, so I would say then next term it will happen,”
O’Riordain said, “I think the ABC case or X case wouldn’t do too much . . . but once you have established a principle then we will get there over time. But I’ll say this much, it’s never going to happen unless Labour are in Government. It just wouldn't happen.” He added that the party is “100 per cent” committed to full abortion legalisation.
The two were covertly recorded last June by an unnamed pro-life woman on her mobile phone. The woman told the Independent that she had led the two Labour TDs into a discussion on abortion because it is in the “public interest” to reveal the “duplicitousness” of politicians on the issue of abortion.
She told the Independent, “They are public representatives. And I think if a public representative is saying one thing in public but reassuring a select group of activists who support them on (that) one issue in private . . . that is something that is of massive concern and that’s something that the public needs to know about.”
The paper said that an independent expert confirmed there was no evidence that the recordings “had been edited or otherwise interfered or tampered with in any way.” The paper added that the “revelations will undoubtedly lead to more pressure to oppose the X case legislation.”
Pro-life people have long been aware that the Labour Party are pro abortion and that their long term plan is abortion on demand. It now appears they are willing to deceive the voting public on the issue in order to achieve their ends. They like to present themselves in the national debate as seeking only ‘limited abortion’ but that deception has now been exposed.
O’Riordain added on the recording that the government-appointed Expert Group, which advised the legislation for legalisation, was intended to provide an excuse for 76 Fine Gael TDs for whom voting in favour of abortion would be “political suicide”.
The Expert Group, he said, “is the way to do that – do you know what I mean? Because they can say, ‘Well, the expert group told us to do it.’”
Needless to say the Labour Party distanced itself from Ferris’ statements, saying they were “her personal views.” “It was in the party’s manifesto and in the Programme for Government that we would legislate for the X Case, and that is the party’s position,” a spokesman told the Independent.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bishops must continually speak out against the ‘Culture of Death’: Cardinal Burke

The bishops of the world must, as individuals, take the lead in combating the Culture of Death, and not wait for the national conferences, Cardinal Raymond Burke told LifeSiteNews.com in an interview according to a report by LifeSiteNews.com.

“It should be emphasized that the individual bishop has a responsibility in this matter. Sometimes what happens is the individual bishops are unwilling to do anything because they wait for the national bishops’ conference to take the lead.”
Cardinal Burke
Warning against some of the bureaucratic trends of “truth by committee” in the Church’s organisation, Cardinal Burke said, “Simply by the way these conferences work, it can be years before some kind of effective direction is given, and then oftentimes because this direction is discussed and debated, it can get very watered down.”

He emphasized that the involvement of the bishops should be constant, and not merely a matter of issuing a statement once. “We’re not writing term papers here where you make reference to an earlier document and that’s sufficient.” In public life, he said, the message has to be stated and re-stated and kept up to date.

And statements, he said, are only one part of it. “Its another thing to encourage people to actively manifest their desire that the moral law be respected,” he said. Even in a “pluralistic” society the moral law is universal and can and must be expressed in law, he explained.

The head of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s supreme court, spoke with LSN in the lead-up to the Marcia per la Vita (March for Life) Nazionale in Rome, set for May 12th in Rome. The Cardinal is known around the world as one of the strongest voices in the Vatican’s Curia for the Church’s teaching on the sacredness of human life at all its stages. He said that the growth of the marches for life, starting in the US, is indicating a shift in opinion on abortion in many countries of the western world, particularly among younger people.

Cardinal Burke said that abortion is the premier social justice issue, even if some in the hierarchy, even in the Vatican, don’t seem to act that way. The lack of enthusiasm for combating abortion as a priority among some of the upper echelons of the Church administration, he said, “is something that needs to be addressed”.

He said that overall, “there is a concern” about abortion among the cardinals. “How they see it practically being witnessed is another thing, however.”
“I think in some places there’s a great hesitation among prelates to be involved in public manifestations. Many see it as some kind of political activity that isn’t proper for a cleric.”

But Burke said he does not hesitate to participate, “because to me, it’s a question of the common good. Giving witness for the common good. It’s not a political rally in the sense that they’re rallying for this or that candidate, it’s not partisan, it’s a good across the  board.”

Citing the encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI Caritas in Veritate, he said that abortion, as well as the widespread use of artificial contraception, must be made priorities: “It seems to me it’s the first issue of social justice, the right to life.”

Remarking on the marches springing up in ultra-liberal European centres like Brussels and Paris, as well as the leap for the Italian national march from 1000 to 15,000 participants in one year, the cardinal said, “I think especially among the younger people there’s a great interest. People realise that the culture is really bankrupt and they’re trying their best to respond to the situation.”

He said that there is a visible increase in interest by bishops, particularly at the March in Washington. He also said that the media blackout has been unable to stop the personal witness of the marches. “I believe it has a great impact,” he said.

He urged the upcoming generation of younger pro-life leaders to bring the life issues up with their clergy.

“I think the lay faithful in the parishes and in the dioceses need to go to their bishops and priests and urge them to give that pastoral leadership that they’re called to give on this very critical issue. Yes the laity have their part, a very significant part in all the various areas of public life to give witness to the Gospel but they depend upon their priests and bishops to give that teaching and example, how to confront the situation.”

“They need leadership. That’s what it’s all about.” 

The marches in Italy are only three years old, and have already grown from a small gathering in an out-of-the-way town in the north, to 15,000 last year in the capital. Organisers are hoping to jumpstart a public debate which has not occurred since Italy’s abortion law was passed in 1978.

While it is true that the Italian abortion rate is relatively low and few doctors are willing to participate in abortion – with overall about 70 per cent in the country refusing and as many as 86 per cent in Lazio, the region of Rome – the abortion rate has numbered in the millions since legalisation. The latest statistics available estimate that about 115,517 abortions in 2010 out of a total Italian population of 60.77 million and a national rate of 8.5 abortions per 1000 women between 18 and 49.

In 2009, the notorious abortion drug regimen, RU-486, was approved for use in early pregnancies. Italian ambivalence about abortion was demonstrated in 1981 when a national referendum to repeal the law was rejected by nearly 68 per cent of voters and another, that would have removed legal restrictions was rejected by 88.4 per cent.

Marcia per la Vita, Roma organizers have asked for help with advertising expenses. In a media release today, organizers explained that radio spots, posters and newspaper ads have cost a total of around 10,000 Euros. “We ask you to help us according to your abilities, to give our event the biggest impact possible,” they said.

“The life of a human being is priceless and we will be in the streets to join our voices in defense of innocent human life that is suppressed every day, every minute, in the world and also in Italy!”

Friday, April 26, 2013

International Planned Parenthood pressure Nigerian Delegation during Comission on Population and Development In New York

International Planned Parenthood have resorted to placing pressure on the Nigerian Ambassador to United Nations to accede to their demands to include references to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the current negotiations on the outcome document for the Commission on Population and Development in New York. 
A letter written by a Planned Parenthood executive was sent yesterday to Nigerian NGO's seeking support for their demand that Nigeria should accept their anti life and anti family agenda.

The letter looks like a veiled threat that PP will use their influence to cause the ambassador to lose her position at UN Women as First Chair if her delegate does not back down on sexual and reproductive health and rights. 

The letter sounds so nice but hidden behind the provision calling for sexual and reproductive health and rights is an agenda to legalise prostitution, same sex marriage, abortion on demand and to sexualise children whilst at the same time denying parental rights.

text of letter.
Please circulate for endorsement. We need to send it to her this evening .
Thanks, Doris

Dear Ambassador Ogwu,
We commend you for the leadership role that Nigeria has taken in advancing women's rights within the United Nations.  We are particularly proud of your efforts, as the first chair of UN Women, to promote gender equality and women's empowerment.  As you know, achieving gender equality and empowerment of women depend on the full realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
As a result, we are writing to express our concern about the position taken by Nigeria during the 46th Session of the Commission on Population and Development.  We are particularly concerned about the fact that Nigeria has called for the bracketing of all language around sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The government of Nigeria has reported to CRC that the maternal mortality rate is estimated to be 800/100,000 live births (2009).  According to a recent Lancet study (2010), Nigeria has the second highest number of maternal deaths in the world, accounting for more than 10% of maternal deaths worldwide. The study further showed that Nigeria's maternal mortality ratio has substantially increased between 1990 and 2008. (2010) Also, the 2008 National Demographic Health Survey found that among women aged 15 to 49, girls between 15 and 19 were the least likely to know of a contraceptive method.
As a signatory to Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of women in Africa, we trust that your government will commit to a positive resolution that reaffirm women's rights, gender equality and women's empowerment. We stand ready to work with you to ensure that Nigeria continues to serve as leader in advancing sexual and reproductive rights and health within the United Nations.
Doris Mpoumou | International Advocacy Officer International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR)
125 Maiden Lane, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10038 | tel 212 214 0275 | fax +1 212 248 4221 email dmpoumou@ippfwhr.orgjban@ippfwhr.org> | skype dmpoumou.ippfwhr| web www.ippfwhr.org<http://www.ippfwhr.org>
[cid:image001.png@01CE411B.3F009BD0]<http://www.facebook.com/pages/International-Planned-Parenthood-Western-Hemisphere-Region/85569513068>  [cid:image002.png@01CE411B.3F009BD0] <http://twitter.com/#%21/IPPF_WHR>  [cid:image003.png@01CE411B.3F009BD0] <http://www.youtube.com/user/IPPFWHR>

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Commission on Population and Development Day 3

Text of a speech delivered to the Commission on Population and Development (CPD46) currently underway at the United Nations headquarters in New York by Ms. Denise Mountenay of Canada Silent no More.

Mr. Chairman; Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Both of my parents immigrated to Canada from Europe almost 60 years ago. For the past 22 years, Canada my birthplace, and homeland has continued to bring in about 250,000 immigrants every year. When my parents arrived with nothing, they went straight to work to support us, and paid taxes right from the beginning to enrich our nation. However, now, according to 'Immigration Watch Canada' the cost of Immigration today in the form of Government Welfare/Healthcare and subsidies is an estimated total of $23.6 Billion per year. Plus we also have another 180,000 New Temporary Foreign Workers allowed to work in Canada every year. Are they taking away jobs from our own Canadians? Or is there a great need for foreign labour because we have vast shortages of manpower in the trades, medical, labour and employment markets due to a dying/aging work force?
We also have an average of about 30,000 people making 'Refugee Claims' to find asylum in Canada annually. Truth is, Canada like most developed countries around the world, now has an aging/dying population problem, and we are not even replacing ourselves. NGO's that specialize in Population Control campaigns under the guise of "family planning" have done well over the last five decades to promote and support widespread use of birth control pills, patches, injections, IUD's, abortions and massive sterilization programs globally in our schools and through media. Worldwide, permanent sterilizations (tubal sterilization and vasectomy) are now used by more people than any other method of contraception today. An estimated 180 million women of reproductive age and 43 million men have been permanently sterilized. Approximately 75% of these people live in India and China where we have reports of forced sterilizations by "family planning" clinics.

As a result world demographics are radically shifting, and will continue to decline rapidly in the developed countries first. Almost every developed nation is now well below replacement fertility rates! They scramble to try and just replace themselves to maintain their cultures.
This downward spiral of aging/dying populations; are a direct result of fewer children being conceived and actually born. Along with the growing population of older people (aged 60 or over) expected to grow from just over 600 million to over 1 billion between 2000 and 2020—a 67 per cent increase—. This development will also have huge economic and geriatric repercussions.

Who is profiting in the billions, from these declining birth rates? It is the large multi-billion dollar manufacturing drug companies that produce the chemical steroids (birth control pills) and devices, along with the abortion (planned death of children in the womb) industry benefiting from the sale of ending the lives of children in the womb.
It appears that the Population Control agencies are now targeting Africa and South and Central America whereby abortion is still illegal and or restricted in most of these countries. Sadly, they are using "Maternal Mortality" as an excuse to push the legalization of abortion into nations that still protect preborn children from being ripped apart, decapitated, poisoned or slaughtered in their mother's womb!
As former legal abortion patients, we attest that whether "legal" or "illegal" abortion is damaging women's mental and reproductive health, and killed our children! There is no such thing as a “safe” abortion. Legal abortions do not equal ‘safe’ abortions! And, of course, abortion is never ‘safe’ for the living baby inside his or her mother’s womb. Unfortunately, pregnant women in developing countries are dying where they also have high infant mortality rates, reflecting the poor nutrition, and little or no health care services. They lack transportation/access to emergency and basic obstetrical care during pregnancy and childbirth. Furthermore, most maternal deaths in Africa have been medically preventable for decades, as treatments to avoid such deaths have been well-known since the 1950s! These pregnant women need clean water, hospitals, food, education, vitamins and sanitation, not boxes of condoms, birth control pills and IUD's.i

The World Health Organization (WHO) target for Millennium Development Goal 5 is to reduce the maternal mortality ratio. There is progress. The Lancet, Medical Journal stated, “... maternal mortality from 1980 to
2008 for 181 countries has shown a substantial decline in maternal deaths....Progress overall would have been greater if the HIV epidemic had not contributed to substantial increases in maternal mortality in eastern and southern Africa.”ii (not "unsafe" illegal abortions)

Tragically, Africans were sold into slavery for profit, having no right to life and liberty. Aboriginal peoples who were classified as "non-persons" in North America were killed and forced into Residential Schools and Reservations. There are the horrors of the holocaust where millions of Jews and others were exterminated as part of a population control campaign by the Nazis, in order to kill the "unwanted". The United Nations was formed to protect every human being no matter how small, despite race, religion and age.
In conclusion, people in developing countries need infrastructure, education on how to prosper, sustainable food, clean water and access to sanitary medical services to preserve all life. They need clean birthing kits to prevent infections; Access to skilled birthing attendants, doctors and emergency obstetric care, not abortions. The CPD of the United Nations has an obligation according the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, to defend and protect the innocent from violence. Article 3 states that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Also, the Declaration on the Rights of the Child, states that “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth,” -CRC (1990) Preamble. And ICPD (1994), Chapter II, Principle 1. Thank you so much for listening. i Wikipedia, Maternal Death ii Boerma JT. PubMed-U.S. National Library of Medicine -National Institutes of Health The Elliot Institute reported that the majority of women in the USA do not even want an abortion as 64% are coerced or pressured into it by boyfriends, parents, husbands and abortion clinic workers. Many women suffer cervical and uterine damage, sterility, pre-term births in subsequent pregnancies, breast and cervical cancers, depression, guilt, remorse, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse etc….from legal abortions.[ii]

www.afterabortion.org and www.abortionbreastcancer.com

Holy See statement to the Commission on Population and Development (CPD46)

The Commission on Population and Development (CPD46) is currently underway at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The theme of this year’s session is ‘New trends in migration: demographic aspects’ The Commission has been hearing from member states many of whom wish to introduce anti-life and anti family concepts into a document which is currently under negotiation, however there are also voices of reason expressing caring and humanitarian approaches to migration. 
Archbishop Chullikatt the Holy See Permanent Representative to the United Nations made an excellent intervention yesterday Wednesday April 25th. We are including the entire speech below but would like first to highlight some of the points made by the Archbishop
 […] we cannot fail to recognize the impact that the enactment of draconian population control policies have wreaked on countries whose populations can no longer sustain themselves, nor the destructive impact that the forced promotion of harmful notions, such as reproductive rights, has had on migrant families, trivialising marriage and the family and denying the very right to life for the unborn.

Such a promotion of population control as a way to development has also led States to use forced abortion and sterilization as a means for controlling or mitigating the demographic and racial impact of migrants on their countries. States, on the contrary, have the duty to bolster the family, “the fundamental group unit of society”, so as to provide support for the institution where the relations of tomorrow must be cultivated.

The full text of the speech follows

Statement by Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt

Apostolic Nuncio

Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
in the Commission on Population and Development
46th Session
United Nations Headquarters, New York, 24 April 2013


Mr. Chairman,


My delegation congratulates you and the bureau on your election and looks forward to working with you during this session to address the urgent needs of our fellow brothers and sisters in situations of insecurity and poverty due to migration.

The globalised economy, by putting human beings increasingly in contact with each other across borders, has contributed to creating and strengthening bonds of friendship and brotherhood within the human family. At the same time, increasing social and economic inequalities have been a source of division in the world and among our peoples. Situations of unsustainable socioeconomic insecurity and poverty have forced more and more individuals, families and entire communities to pursue their destinies in foreign lands and have driven them to leave their homes and families in the hopes of a more secure future in different countries and communities. In addition, millions every year are constrained to abandon their lands and the lands of their ancestors out of threat of war, humanitarian crisis, civil unrest and famine in order to survive. “Whether due to a search for better living conditions or a flight from persecution, war, violence, hunger or natural disasters, [migration] has led to an unprecedented mingling of peoples, with new problems and challenges.[1]

The current state of migration presents a “social phenomenon of epoch-making proportions”[2] where families are forcibly divided, children are rendered vulnerable, labourers face abuse without recourse to remedies, and migrants are incarcerated without due respect for their human rights and dignity. Women migrants, in particular, face threats of sexual abuse and trafficking as if they were mere commodities. Accordingly, my delegation is pleased that, in his Report,[3] the Secretary-General has highlighted the need to promote family reunification, integration of migrants, recognition of the qualifications of skilled migrant workers, new approaches to assist elderly migrants, cost reductions of sending remittances, as well as protection of female domestic workers and migrants in irregular situations, especially women and children vulnerable to sexual and labour exploitation, abuse and human trafficking.

Solutions to the predicament that migration provokes for millions of our brothers and sisters ought to be far-reaching and sustainable if they are not to exacerbate an already tragic situation for many. Whereas States are possessed of a right to protect the integrity of their territorial borders, the frank reality of migration necessitates the measure of this right against the right of all people to migrate and pursue a standard of life befitting their human dignity. Where this right cannot be realised, necessity ordains that each one of us would seek it elsewhere and thus countries of destination have a moral duty to treat each migrant with respect for their human rights and dignity. Controlling borders therefore requires treating migrants with justice and mercy rather than as dangerous criminals or unwanted elements of the society. It also requires extending due protection of the law and respecting the universal rights of migrants, regardless of their migratory status, especially their right to life, development, education, clothing, food, shelter and basic health care.

Mr. Chairman,

A first step towards solution must be the frank recognition of the presence among us of migrants, and an acknowledgement of their humanity. It is not a reality that can be washed away. The presence of migrants among us confronts us with the ancient question, “Who is my neighbour?”[4], and invites receiving countries to evaluate their hospitality in terms of their commitment to brotherhood enshrined in the very first article of the Universal Declaration of Human rights.

Migrants count among “the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten,” that Pope Francis pleaded for in his recent Palm Sunday Homily[5]: “those who do not matter in the eyes of the world”. Their human dignity requires that we accord to them their fundamental rights, including their right to migrate. Migrants are human persons, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, members of the human family, struggling with the challenges we all face, oftentimes under infinitely harsher circumstances. This should augur for the establishment of a stronger sense of solidarity between peoples and amongst nations which requires collaboration between countries of origin and destination and the adoption of adequate international norms so as to protect the rights of migrants and members of their families.

Mr. Chairman,

Migrants’ courageous pursuit of development for the good of their families naturally predisposes them to serve as an inspiration for their host communities. Their presence, courage and willingness to work can be a boon for both receiving and sending economies, and an enrichment of the common good through the cultures and values they bear. They are a source of immense social and economic potential which must be nurtured or risk being squandered. The Secretary-General reports an increase by some 60 million of the number of international migrants during the past 20 years, most of whom migrate from developing to developed countries – suggesting that migrant families are providing vital human resources in these rapidly ageing regions of the world where fertility rates are often well below replacement levels. Thus, migration brings host countries many benefits – and these ought honestly to be acknowledged and accorded the appropriate legal recognition.

Ultimately, the only appropriate response to the ongoing phenomenon of migration must be the development of the sending countries whose encounter with the globalised economy has not rendered them able to meet the legitimate aspirations of their people. Development of the poorer countries is the real and urgent challenge we have as a human family, calling for our active and concrete engagement. Redoubling border controls or tightening visa restrictions only serves to bolster migrants’ resolution and risk-taking, aggravating a sense of civic alienation to the point where it could threaten to undermine stability and the common good. Such an approach functions to harness a force of great potential good to precisely the opposite ends.

Further, we cannot fail to recognize the impact that the enactment of draconian population control policies have wreaked on countries whose populations can no longer sustain themselves, nor the destructive impact that the forced promotion of harmful notions, such as reproductive rights, has had on migrant families, trivialising marriage and the family and denying the very right to life for the unborn. Such a promotion of population control as a way to development has also led States to use forced abortion and sterilization as a means for controlling or mitigating the demographic and racial impact of migrants on their countries. States, on the contrary, have the duty to bolster the family, “the fundamental group unit of society”[6], so as to provide support for the institution where the relations of tomorrow must be cultivated.

Mr. Chairman

My delegation will continue to advocate for and provide economic, social, political, cultural, ethical, and religious resources for migrants regardless of their legal status and hopes that through this session we may find the political, legal and economic will necessary to make a lasting difference for those migrants and refugees longing for a better life.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[1] Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees: Migration, a Sign of the Times, 2006.
[2] Encyclical Letter, Caritas in Veritate, 62.
[3] E/CN.9/2013/3.
[4] Lk 10:29
[5] Homily for Palm Sunday, 24 March 2013.
[6] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 16.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Commission on Population and Development

The Commission on Population and Development which this year is focusing on Migration takes place in New York this week. The original draft outcome document setting out essential needs for migrants has been loaded up with references to sexual and reproductive health, sexual orientation and gender identity. Negotiations will continue until Friday.

The following flier was prepared by the pro-life and pro-family coalition

Legislating for X: Medical Science and the Separation of Powers

The Cork Constitutional Project at UCC has posted a very interesting article by Dr. Maria Cahill, a Lecturer in Constitutional Law in University College Cork, which we include below but is also available on thislink.
No Supreme Court ever wants to be in the position of prescribing a treatment plan for a person suffering from a life-threatening medical condition.

In the X case, in 1992, however, this is exactly the situation the Supreme Court found itself in. The case dealt with the most distressing of factual circumstances and the Court, by a majority of four of five judges, ruled that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution permitted abortion in the case of a “real and substantial risk to the life of the mother by self-destruction”.

That decision was made in the absence of any medical or psychiatric evidence but it was very clearly premised both on the assumption that abortion was an effective treatment for such a risk of self-destruction and on the assumption that there was no other way of avoiding that risk. Indeed, since the majority judges did not – even in passing – suggest that the woman in question be given any other form of psychiatric assistance, it appears that they believed that abortion would be a complete treatment for her condition.

In January, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children did hear medical and psychiatric evidence from leading experts. Their testimony demonstrated conclusively that the assumption that abortion is a treatment for suicidal ideation is simply mistaken; that the best way to treat women with serious mental illness is in fact to treat the mental illness. In answer to a direct question asking whether perinatal psychiatrists had ever come across a case where termination of pregnancy was a treatment for suicidality, Dr John Sheehan spoke for all three of our perinatal psychiatrists when he said “we have not seen one clinical situation in which this is the case”.

On 5th April, the Irish Medical Organisation voted to reject the Supreme Court’s treatment plan for suicidal ideation when it voted to reject “regulation in relation to the provision of abortion services where there is a ‘real and substantial risk’ to the life of the mother” including a risk created by mental illness.

In reality, nobody can be all that surprised that judges should err in devising a treatment plan for a patient with mental illness in the absence of expert testimony. Judges are highly trained and have years of professional experience, but their expertise does not include perinatal psychiatric specialism.

The question now is whether to recognise that their treatment plan – while devised with the best of intentions – was based on inadequate medical knowledge and a departure from best medical practice or to legislate for the mistaken treatment plan in spite of best medical practice.

Our Constitution gives specific powers to three branches of government. Each – the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary – has its own particular role to play. None should encroach on the function of another, and each should operate as a ‘check’ on the power of the others. This simple architecture of checks and balances operates to preserve democracy by preventing any one power from becoming so powerful that it becomes tyrannical. Moreover, but no less importantly, it is also a corrective mechanism.

The Constitution recognises that mistakes can be made, even when all those who hold power wield that power with the best of intentions. When the mistakes of one branch can be exposed and corrected by another branch of government this is a sign that the system is working; that tyranny is being avoided.

When the legislature or executive makes a mistake interpreting the Constitution, there are procedures by which the judges can correct those mistakes with relative ease and efficiency. They do not entail a presumption that the Oireachtas or the Government acted in bad faith; to the contrary, the courts traditionally assume that the Oireachtas and the Government has acted with the best of intentions, even when they find error.

When judges make mistakes, however, they are the most difficult mistakes to correct because the interpretation of law given by the judges is authoritative, even when mistaken, unless and until the judges overturn their own decision.

Yet, in an extraordinary example of participative democracy, the legislative branch, by means of the January Oireachtas Hearings, has managed to identify the mistake in the treatment plan proposed by the Supreme Court in 1992.

The Oireachtas now has in its own hands compelling testimony that the Supreme Court did not have which effectively exposes the judgment in the X case as one where a mistaken assumption of fact was improperly used as a reason to deny to one guaranteed a right to life under the Constitution the vindication of that right.

To the extent that that mistake has been brought to light, the system has worked.

Does the Government have a mandate to ignore this contribution of the Oireachtas to the functioning of our democracy? Does the Government have a mandate to continue to consider that abortion is a treatment for mental illness even though that is a defiance of science?

Do TDs and Senators have a mandate to vote in favour of legislation on the grounds of the X case when they hold the knowledge that such legislation would be in contradiction of the truth that their own hearings uncovered, as well as contrary to best medical practice?

If the Oireachtas produced legislation that was consistent with best medical practice omitting suicide as grounds for abortion wouldn’t the current Supreme Court find it difficult not to defer to that decision on the grounds that the Oireachtas is in possession of expert knowledge that the Supreme Court in 1992 was denied access to?

The Constitution sets up a system of checks and balances, but it is not an automated system. It relies on individuals who have positions of great privilege and responsibility to honestly seek the solution that promotes the common good of all persons.

Dr. Maria Cahill is a Lecturer in Constitutional Law in University College Cork

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cabinet to discuss draft contents of controversial abortion bill

The Journal reports that Irish Government Ministers will this morning hold their first discussions on the contents of draft legislation which will legally permit abortion in certain circumstances.

The legislation, being brought forward by health minister James Reilly, follows the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling in 2010 in the A, B and C case – where it was ruled that Ireland’s failure to clarify the circumstances in which an abortion could be carried out.

A key point of debate for ministers will be discussing exactly how many medical professionals will be involved in deciding when an abortion can be permitted.

It was reported on Sunday that one draft of the legislation would require pregnant women to be assessed by six medical professionals, including two obstetricians and four psychiatrists, including one perinatal psychiatrist – plans which prompted ire from some, who said the prospect of a six-member panel.

However, Reilly said yesterday that the legislation would not require six professionals to be consulted. The report of the Expert Group formed to respond to the A, B and C case had suggested a panel of three professionals.

Though the matter is expected to be up for discussion when ministers hold their weekly Cabinet meeting this morning, it is not clear whether ministers expect to reach a conclusion on the matter.

Justice minister Alan Shatter, who will miss today’s meeting to chair a meeting of EU defence ministers in Luxembourg, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland it was important that the legislation did not raise “unreal barriers” stopping women from accessing life-saving treatment if it was needed.

“It is important that we have a legal architecture in place so that women understand what the position is, and what assistance is available to them, and so no confusion arises between members of the medical profession,” he said.

Shatter added that the government’s timetable of having the legislation in place by the summer recess – when the Dáil breaks for the summer in mid-July – was still “readily achievable”.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tension between Irish Government parties on abortion issue

In response to a report that the ‘draft heads’ of a bill for the introduction of abortion in Ireland included assessment of requests for abortion by a panel of six doctors, Labour Minister Pat Rabbitte, along with colleague Jan O’Sullivan, said he would have serious concerns if draft legislation included a proposal that six doctors would be required to assess if a threat of suicide by a pregnant woman represented a real and substantial risk to her life.

Health Minister Dr James Reilly meanwhile is reported as saying “some people may have formed the wrong impression”. “The heads of the bill are not finalised. They are still in process. It would not be appropriate for me to discuss what is in them until they have been discussed at the appropriate level which is cabinet,” he told reporters this morning.

Dr Reilly said after he brings the heads of the bill to Government, they will go to the Oireachtas committee on health where the heads can be discussed before the bill is finally drafted. “Obviously the drafting of that bill will be very much informed by what happens at the Oireachtas Committee,” he said.

Dr Reilly revealed it was his intention to bring it before the cabinet tomorrow. He anticipated that were would be disagreements about it at cabinet level, at the Oireachtas committee and even after the bill is drafted.

“I want to reassure people that there will be no question of a woman in distress with suicidal ideation being put through the sort of interviewing process that we have heard about on the television and the radio,” he explained.

“At the heart of this is a need for legislation to clarify the situation for women who have to use the service and for doctors who have to provide it.”

The Irish Times reported Monday April 22nd that Labour leader and Tánaiste Éamon Gilmore has said the timetable for the introduction of abortion legislation is on-track, but it is important that the content of the legislation is right.

Speaking in Luxembourg this morning, where he is chairing a meeting of EU ministers, the Tanaiste said the purpose of the legislation was to “provide certainty to women and their medical practitioners.”

“We have a timetable which is to have this legislation dealt with by the summer recess. We intend to keep to that deadline, but of course it’s important that we get the content of the legislation right, because the whole purpose of this legislation is to protect the lives of women, and to provide certainty to women who find themselves in this situation.”

His comments come in the wake of reports that deep divisions between the coalition partners on how to delay the suicide aspect of the law, could delay tomorrow’s publication of draft abortion legislation.

High-level talks took place over the weekend involving the offices of Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Gilmore, as well as Minister for Health James Reilly, in an effort to find a solution that would accommodate the dramatically different viewpoints of the Labour Party and sections of Fine Gael on the inclusion of a suicide threat as a ground for a legal termination.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Savita 'died from rare infection'

SAVITA Halappanavar died from an extremely rare and aggressive infection which an expert from the National Maternity Hospital had only seen five times in his 40-year career. Independent report

Three experts told the inquest that the 31-year-old dentist had died as a result of septic shock with the presence of an antibiotic-resistant Ecoli infection – and this had caused her to suffer multi-organ failure.

The young woman had been strong and healthy prior to the aggressive infection spreading rapidly through her system.

The post-mortem found no evidence of any underlying condition that could have contributed to her death.

Dr Peter Kelehan, a former pathologist with the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin, who reviewed the post-mortem findings for the inquest, said there were "classic signs of septic abortion" present in the case.

He said such cases were extremely rare and he had only seen four or five cases in his 40-year career. In all of those cases the mothers had survived.

He added that of the 700 to 800 miscarriages he would have seen each year, it was highly unusual to come across the level of infection that was present in Savita's case. "It is exceedingly rare to find this level of inflammation," he said.

Dr Kelehan highlighted the need for swift action in cases of acute chorioamnionitis, an infection of the foetal membranes, and told the inquest that the infection grows rapidly in such cases as a result of the death of the placenta tissues during miscarriage.

According to Dr Kelehan, signs of septic abortion were evident in the placenta in Savita's case.

The expert witness agreed with Eugene Gleeson, counsel for Praveen Halappanavar, that such an infection would set alarm bells ringing when viewed under microscope, adding that it was "so important that you pick up the phone and make the call".

The former pathologist added that in his opinion the baby and placenta would have been dead before the rapid growth of this infection. "This is why it is so important to remove this tissues so quickly once the baby is dead," he said.

Earlier the inquest heard from Prof Grace Callagy, of UHG, who carried out the post-mortem on Ms Halappanavar. She recorded the cause of death as septic shock with the presence of an 'esbl' strain of Ecoli infection. A further factor in her death was the miscarriage at 17 weeks associated with the onset of acute chorioamnionitis, an inflammation of the foetal membrane.

Prof Callagy told the inquest that multiple swabs had been taken which showed the infection had been an ascending infection that most likely originated in the patient's rectum and travelled up the genital tract to her uterus. She added that there was no other focus of infection found anywhere. This view was shared by Dr Kelehan and Dr Sebastian Lucas who is considered the foremost expert in sepsis in the UK.

Prof Callagy agreed with Coroner Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin that when Ms Halappanavar's membranes ruptured the patient was vulnerable to that infection. She added that she had rarely come across such a case.

Praveen Halappanavar did not attend yesterday's hearing, with his solicitor Gerard O'Donnell saying he had found earlier evidence very distressing.

Mr O'Donnell added that Mr Halappanavar would return to the inquest today to hear the jury's verdict.