Ireland laws treat women like vessels: Amnesty

Ireland laws treat women like vessels: Amnesty

Citing the case of Savita Halappanavar who died after not being allowed medical termination of pregnancy, Amnesty International on Tuesday asked Ireland to allow legal abortions as the current laws treat women like “vessels”.

The NGO released a report “She is Not a Criminal: The Impact of Ireland's Abortion Law” saying pregnant women and girls risk putting their health and life in danger if they remain in Ireland.

The report documents cases of Irish authorities denying women and girls necessart healthcare in order to prioritise the life of foetus, which is protected by an amendment to Ireland’s Constitution added in 1983.

“Every year approximately 4,000 women and girls from Ireland travel to the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain, among other countries, for this medical service. They travel for a host of reasons: they are faced with fatal or severe foetal impairment pregnancies, are rape survivors, have health conditions, are struggling with economic or social challenges that don’t make parenting an option, or choose not to continue with a pregnancy for personal reasons,” the report said.

“What they share is the sense of exclusion from their healthcare system, the stigma of travelling for an abortion, and the burden of secrecy that often comes with it,” it added.
Referring to the death of Halappanavar, who belonged to Karnataka, after she was not allowed abortion despite failing health, the Amnesty report said her death “had a particularly strong impact” on many of the women.

“In October 2012, the reality of Ireland’s restrictive and unclear laws – and the need for clear legislative and regulatory guidance for doctors – became painfully evident with the preventable death of Halappanavar. Halappanavar died from septic shock after being denied a medically-indicated abortion following a miscarriage,” the report said.

Her case was mentioned as a reminder to women and their partners of the potential consequences of the abortion ban and of being unable to travel to another country when in need of abortion services, the report said.

It said the women who were interviewed for the report made repeated reference to the death of Halappanavar and the “impact it had on them, some fearing for their lives should they need to undergo a lawful abortion in Ireland”.

“Because of Ireland’s restrictive abortion law, including the risk of criminal or professional sanction, doctors in Ireland may wait until a serious health concern becomes a lifethreatening situation before they intervene. This practice occurs at the expense of pregnant women’s lives. Halappanavar was one such woman,” it said.

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