17 Nov, 12 | by BMJ
I am going to, rather controversially, agree with one aspect of the statements of pro-life activists commenting on this case. That is not something I thought I’d ever say. Like, ever ever.
A statement issued by Youth Defence (one of Ireland’s most radical pro-life organisations) made the valid point that “Irish doctors are always obliged to intervene to save the life of a mother, even if that risks the life of her baby”. Because of some misconceptions about the reasons for Savita’s maltreatment, it is assumed that Ireland needs to reform its abortion law so that this never happens again. While I would strongly support abortion law reform in Ireland, it is not necessary to ensure this never happens again. Mere legal regulation of the status quo on abortion would prevent this. As the (limited) law stands, this should never have happened at all. While some believe that legislation to regulate access to already lawful abortions constitutes law reform, any such legislation would not alter the current legal position – it would merely give meaningful access to abortions.
I don’t agree with anything else that has been included in pro-life posts/articles (stop throwing things at your computer screens), but more on that later. First, I want to elaborate on this to clear up some of the misconceptions about Irish law that have been expressed in condemnations of the case around the web.
If you have clicked through to this post, it is very likely that you’ve already read about the facts of Savita’s case, first reported in the Irish Times on 14 November, and at least some of the estensive commentary pieces available on the issues arising from this case (like this, and this, and this). (These links here are to pieces by Irish people with more informed knowledge of the legal situation.)