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Tuesday 30 October 2012

Red Handed

The Oireachtas has approved an independent review on the findings of the HSE over the scandal the previous weeks of crisis pregenancy centers giving women, who typically have gone abroad for abortions, highly illegal, unethical, unprofessional advice to hide the fact they had an abortion from their GPs because of the stigma of abortion in Irish society.

A couple of things and I hope you all can please forgive my own lapse of professionalism and eloquence but

FUCK those Crisis Pregnancy centers.

There, I can now keep my vitriol down to a simmer and get into the reasons why I just said what I said.

Now I am pro-life, almost ridiculously so. As such I will try to explain why, using my skills three years of legal education have thought me, that this independent review is both neccessary and correct, because I sure even some of my pro-life readers likely make exceptions for abortions in cases of rape and hence, will likely be appaled at my above outburst. So let me begin.

1) Firstly, the Irish Constitution makes allowances for abortion, on the advice of doctors who think it best, for the health and safety of the mother. Ireland's gynecological medical rating is literally one of the best if not the best in the world and our doctors are highly competent men and women who exercise deliberation, caution and professional medical practice. They do not usually think it in the best interests of the mother's health to have an abortion and with good reason, despite the general state of Irish healthcare, Ireland is literally the safest country in the world to have an abortion almost regardless of the woman's actual medical circumstances because of the quality of our medical professionals. Social abortions such as 'I am not ready/fit to raise this baby at my age/working situation' or 'I just do not want to have a baby' is unacceptable reasons for a termination. Why? Because the Irish constitution legally recognizes the right to life of the unborn, that the fetus is, essentially a person and thus, terminating it on grounds of social reasons is legally tantamount to killing a person for social reasons. It creates a cognitive dissonance within Irish Law. Whereas the health exception would be cases where having the child would greatly exacerbate a woman's medical condition to the point of life threatening. Quality of Life is not taken into account.

2) With regards to the above Law of the Irish constitution and the case of X, Y and Z vrs Ireland case before the European Court of Human Rights. Several facts need to be made clear. Firstly this court is not, in fact, and institution of the European Union of which Ireland is a member state of and is hence, subject to its directives. This gets confused as the EU has an ECHR which refers to the European Convention of Human Rights, which is something else. The rulings of the Court of Human Rights have no binding legal effect on European states, the worst that can come from deciding against the ruling of the court is likely political embarrassment or estrangement, which is unlikely to happen anyway since very few people take some of the more stringent rulings of this court seriously enough to enforce them in their own countries. Unless its ruling is strongly related to the ECHR, in which case the EU may take notice and force peoples' hands. This is why Britain could ignore the Court's ruling on giving prisoners the right to vote while in prison. Now, the case of X, Y and Z v Ireland invoked the ECHR, claiming Ireland's laws were contrary to several articles of the ECHR. The Court famously refuses to take a hardline stance either side of major social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, justifying that there is no majority opinion across the continent on which it can justify ruling one way or the other as evidence by previous abortion cases brought before it in the past. In the case, two of the women involved where struck down, as the court ruled that Irish doctor's refusal to perform abortions for them was not contrary to the specific articles they invoked of the ECHR, (they both effectively amounted to social reasons for abortion trying to justify it under right to privacy and another article) however in X's case was successful. But not for the reasons pro-abortion proponents in Ireland think it is. in X's particular case the woman had cancer, I believe it was in remission at the time, Doctors told her of her medical condition when she inquired about the abortion and told her that they would advise continuing the pregnancy. Everything was fine and legal up until the woman asked to see her medical information on which the doctors were basing their judgement as well as services in other countries that offer abortion, they refused to give it to her. THIS is what the X case was about. Under Irish law she DID in fact have a right to see her medical information, and the doctors withholding of it was wrong. (Granted, had they let her see the information their opinions and that of their colleagues would be no different and she could not force them to have an abortion if she disagreed with their opinions.) The X case was the court of Human Rights mandating that Ireland makes its own constitutional law clear, resulting in the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments, later included in the text of the eight amendment and amounted to essentially not refusing a citizen's freedom of movement from state to state (a right that existed in Irish law but was never condensed into a sentence as part of the constitution) as well as, and this is important; 'This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state.' Effectively meaning it WAS legal for a woman in Ireland to move to another state to procure an abortion.* But the case was never, EVER about making the Irish state legalize abortion. This is a farce, a straight up lie. It was about forcing Ireland to enforce the laws it already had in place not forcing it to radically altar its constitution to make further allowances for abortion. Also of note in the wake of the case there were several referendums attempting to remove the threat of suicide as justifying procurement of abortion. These failed. The logic was that there were women who feigned suicidal tendencies over pregnancy in order to get an abortion, they were defeated because removing this justification would, logically, would result in genuinely psychologically troubled women from procuring an abortion and result in higher suicide rates among women. Ireland often looks at the result of abortion laws effects in England when trying to get examples. Also technically abortion isn't exactly legal per se in England either as much as it is allowed. Its complicated but one scandal at a time since it will be relevant to a future abortion post regarding Northern Ireland.

*This is relevant to my final points so remember this.

3) Rape pregnancies happen. They are an extremely minor cause of pregnancy to the point where, in my own legal opinion, legalizing abortion on a wider scale because of it is ethically and legally unsound but at the end of the day they happen and the cause a great deal of trauma to the women involved. This is where Crisis pregnancy centers enter the scene. Legally speaking, yes, they are allowed to give women advice on where they can go to procure abortions safely, legally, and discreetly in foreign countries. In fact crisis pregnancy centers offer this advice to a wider array of pregnant women other then those who conceived through rape and/or incest, this is obvious and I won't be going into the ethics of the centers in general in this post. I will say, however, that the professional councilors, (or I hope they are professional councilors, in most cases at the very least), are not, ARE NOT, permitted to advise women to withhold important medical information to their GPs. I cannot stress this enough. Medical confidentiality is a serious thing in common law jurisdictions, Ireland is not an exception, while a doctor, as in the UK, may, in some circumstances, share your medical information with other trusted professional colleagues in his field for second opinions and discussion, they are not permitted to talk about your particular information to anyone else under penalty of prosecution and lawsuit against, potentially not only him or her but also the medical institutions they are affiliated with and could end up with their medical licence revoked even under the relatively light gavel the courts use regarding medical professionals, (remember that bit about doctors being revered in Ireland? yeah it makes the courts lenient with them, the same is done to fire fighters and police officers in order not to deter or dis-incentiveise 'rescuers'. The same is practiced in UK common Law. But in serious breaches of duty of care the law can come down like an meteor and leave just as large a blast radius). So, considering this, and indeed, considering that going abroad to procure a discreet abortion is legal, you informing your GP that you had an abortion is INCREDIBLY important information for a woman's future health. Without going into detail of the medical dangers or realities of abortion (otherwise this post's comments will get ideological REAL quick) at the end of the day, an abortion could at the very least, perforate a woman's womb, causing internal bleeding or perhaps difficulties in future pregnancies. (I have seen people by this point argue that if Abortion were legal in Ireland this wouldn't happen which is logically farcical since these abortions are usually procured legally in say, the UK, France, the Netherlands or Belgium where abortion is widespread, legal (sortof in the UK's case) and "professionally done". Lets leave it at that for now.) Now, the crisis pregnancy centers in question have advised these women, USING THE FEAR OF SOCIAL STIGMA OF HAVING AN ABORTION AS THEIR JUSTIFICATION, to not inform their GPs of the operation.

Ok, so see where I am going with this?

You really should by this point.

In truth, a woman who procures an abortion abroad should have maybe a close knit group of maybe 5-10 people at the most who knows she has procured it. It is impossible for me to presuppose on their situations, about who knows what about their circumstances and I am not going to address the existence of the abortion stigma in Ireland because it is the obvious result of living in a highly pro-life society (if nothing else). I could go to America, get a job and make many friends, admit I had testicular cancer and have become totally impotent as a result of the operation. I would then have a stigma attached to me. Stigmas. Happen. They are unfair and they may result in you not telling even your closest friends about your circumstances.

They are not an excuse not to tell your doctor about your previous medical operations, whose very existence could pose complications of future medical procedures. And do. Woman have died from not telling medical professionals handling their data that they had procured an abortion abroad.

Perhaps now you are beginning to see.

These councilors have broken their duty of care to these women. Some probably did it out of genuine concern for the woman's social status, even though they should have rightly known doctors cannot discuss their patient's circumstances. A darker side of me, the cynic of old, believes that at least some of these councilors may have had a malicious motive but I am tossing that to the ditch to maintain professionalism in this post. Their motive, unless it genuinely was malicious, matters not.

Their advice to the women to procure foreign abortions was legal, their advice to withold important medical information was not. Anyone who argues otherwise is wrong, they do not care for these womens' wellbeing. These women, under the law, should not have been advised to withhold such crucial medical information (keep in mind the women may not have entirely been aware of the particulars of the law when receiving this advice), these councilors where in the wrong and have endangered these women.

Whatever your stance on the issue, (and you do have one, so there is no point in me arguing my stance in attempts to convert you), you are wrong to think that a review and investigation into these centers was not warranted.

The Oireachtas is correct in calling for the review of these findings, but the HSE cannot be trusted to review these crisis pregnancy centers. You do not ask a banker to review his own corrupt holdings.