Mick Wallace How bad that the #EU of the so called 'European Values' has supported this Terrorism against the people of #Syriahttps://t.co/wRXMSubfYi
Mick Wallace Western Colonialism never really stopped, it just got a make over - It's now called 'Financial Imperialism'. Are we… https://t.co/KoMpQ69bBw
Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: Would mean something for Irish people and the notion of 'Irish Neutrality' if Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs @simoncov
Mick Wallace It would do something for #EU credibility if it were to acknowledge the amazing selfless role that #Cuba has played… https://t.co/I8G0EcxRxz

Health

Yesterday, the Dail voted against the Fatal Foetal Abnormalities Bill, 95 votes to 45. That so many members of our Parliament are out of touch with the People of Ireland, does not speak well for politics. Pressure from right wing religious forces should not be underestimated,  but the refusal to address the stark reality, that we are violating the Human Rights of Women, and intend to continue doing so is very disheartening. Credit to Sinn Fein and Independents who supported the Bill, credit to the 5 Fianna Fáil members - Niall Collins, Timmy Dooley, Robert Troy, Lisa Chambers and Fiona O'Loughlin, and credit to Ind Alliance trio Shane Ross, John Halligan and Finian McGrath, who showed more courage in Government than Labour ever did - A Labour Party who couldn't even support the Bill yesterday - what do they stand for anymore? 

 Here's my speech in the Dail, on the Bill last week  -

 "The parameters of the Bill are extremely narrow. We seek to legislate to allow abortion in cases where two specialist medical practitioners - an obstetrician and a perinatologist - have deemed a foetus to be incompatible with life. We are not talking about life-limiting illnesses or disabilities, but foetuses which are incompatible with life. In June 2013, there was letter in The Irish Times from a group of 43 lawyers and law lecturers, who set out that it was entirely possible to legislate for fatal foetal abnormality without changing the Constitution. According to the group:

It is possible to interpret Article 40.3.3° so that the “unborn” that is protected therein does not include those foetuses with fatal abnormalities. The Irish courts have not considered this legal issue and there is no binding precedent excluding such an interpretation.

Ireland is just one of two EU member states that do not allow for legal terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormality. The fact that the question of allowing for abortion in such cases has never been assessed by the Irish courts means women are, by law, required to carry to term, and give birth to, a foetus which will never be born alive.

  The question of constitutionality has been raised by many Government Deputies in regard to the Bill, and the opinion of the Attorney General in this regard was trotted out as an excuse for Government Deputies to vote against Deputy Clare Daly’s Bill last year. There are two very serious problems with this. The first is that the opinion was never published, and we have never had a chance to assess or debate it. The second is that it is only an opinion. Only the courts can find something to be constitutional or not. If constitutionality is the only reason Deputies have for refusing to back this Bill, they should allow it to be assessed in the appropriate manner, by the courts. If the courts find it is unconstitutional, we will be in the same situation as we are now.

  We, too, have sought legal opinion and I have been told that for Government Members to keep repeating that the Bill is unconstitutional is highly inappropriate. Under the separation of powers doctrine, which is enshrined within the Constitution and forms the backbone of our democracy, only the courts can interpret legislation. Article 15 provides that only the Oireachtas has the power to make laws and Article 28 sets out that executive power can be exercised only through the Government. Each of the three bodies has sole independence and power in its own sphere and cannot encroach into the sphere of any other. This system of checks and balances, this separation of powers, is supposed to mean no one body is too powerful and it prevents over concentration of power in the hands of one body.

  It is all the more inappropriate if it can be shown that the legal advice the Government is relying on from the Attorney General's office, that our Bill is unconstitutional, does not relate specifically to our Bill and is outdated and, possibly, obsolete if it was provided in 2010. Under Article 15, the Oireachtas cannot pass laws that are “repugnant” to the Constitution. However, given the disagreement among legal academics and barristers on whether fatal foetal abnormalities can be legislated for, the question of constitutionality is at the very least arguable, and the Bill cannot be said to be repugnant to the Constitution, which would be a piece of legislation that is clearly and undeniably unconstitutional.

  The Constitution has been referred to many times by judges and academics as a "living, breathing document". It is intended that judges have the power to interpret the meaning of the Constitution to reflect the society of the day. Society has changed considerably since 1937, and indeed since the eighth amendment was introduced in 1983. It is time we gave the Constitution a chance to catch up.

  The recent examination of the Amanda Mellet case by the UN Human Rights Committee, UNHRC, was the first time any international court or human rights body has found that the criminalisation of abortion is, in itself, a violation of human rights. The UNHRC found that even though the State did not directly inflict harm on Amanda Mellet, its neglect and abandonment of women in this situation, who are left “isolated and defenceless”, moves situations like hers out of the realm of guiltless tragedy and into the responsibility of the State. In forcing her to travel, depriving her of material and emotional support and appropriate care during and after the abortion, the Irish State added to the heartbreak of carrying an unviable pregnancy, violating her right to "protection from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" detailed in Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ICCPR. The State also violated her rights to privacy and bodily integrity under Article 17 of the ICCPR. According to the committee, “requiring the author to carry a fatally impaired pregnancy to term only underscores the extent to which the State party has prioritised ... the reproductive role of women as mothers, and exposes its claimed justification in this context as a reductio ad absurdum".

  The committee found that the State discriminated against Amanda Mellet both as a woman and on socio-economic grounds. According to Sarah Cleveland, a member of the UNHRC, the criminalisation of abortion amounts to gender discrimination, because it affects a health service that only women need and places no equivalent burden on men. Women who choose to carry an unviable pregnancy to term and deliver a stillborn child receive State-funded care, whereas those would-be criminals who choose to travel for the termination of their already unviable foetus must bear the cost themselves and forgo any aftercare. Tough luck if you cannot afford it.

  According to the London-based Abortion Support Network, the economic crisis has made the process of accessing abortions even harder for poorer women. Deputies who hide behind the eighth amendment as an excuse to vote against the Bill, and who then refuse to call for the repeal of the amendment, are shamelessly upholding a system which violates the rights of women specifically, treating them as second-class citizens, completely denying their bodily integrity and regarding them as no more than human incubators. It is the Government’s neglect of its responsibility to protect the human rights of its citizens, as highlighted by the United Nations, which allows for this truly appalling situation to continue.

  The Minister for Health, Deputy Simon Harris, has said he read the UN committee’s report, stating that he found “the experience this woman had, deeply upsetting". He said he had met with families who have been through the trauma of knowing their baby will not survive and had been very moved by hearing of their experiences. He said he wanted the issue to be addressed. I hope he will put his words into action. Although the finding of the UNHRC is not technically binding on Ireland, in line with our obligations under international law, in particular the ICCPR, we are obliged to act on it in good faith to implement the findings of the committee. International law requires the State to provide a remedy and prevent a repetition.

  Every day, ten to 12 women and girls leave Ireland to access safe and legal abortions, because if they did so here, they could face up to 14 years in prison. The Irish Family Planning Association found that between January 1980 and December 2015, over 166,000 women and girls travelled from the Republic of Ireland to access abortion services in another country. Ruth Fletcher, senior lecturer in law at Queen Mary University London, holds that restricting access to abortion does not stop abortion; it just makes the experience more harmful. According to Ruth Fletcher:

If Irish society is serious about reducing harm to pregnant women, including the harms of disrespecting their autonomy and bodily integrity, the State needs to change how it thinks about pregnancy and abortion. The recognition of woman and foetus as legal equals has been harmful, and needs to change.

 

People disagree about abortion and have different views on when life begins. While people are entitled to their beliefs, they should not be entitled to shove their beliefs down the necks of others, especially when it amounts to a violation of their human rights."

Good soundness is a result of proper nutrition and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are varied. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the perfect treatment variant for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to keep in mind about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile dysfunction, including many blood stress medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may turn on erectile malfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

We must not fail women when they are most vulnerable to violence

This week’s downgrading of services at the Wexford Women’s Refuge is a sorry reminder of the low priority given to women’s and children’s wellbeing in Ireland.

The closure of the refuge’s overnight service, the only such service in the entire county, for 13 weeks, was carried out despite the fact that during the same period last year, the refuge functioned at full capacity and still had to turn away 41 women and 86 children. At the 11th hour an emergency service has been put in place, meaning that a staff member will answer a 24-hour phone number and try to find alternative accommodation for women who contact the refuge from 9pm to 9am.

This is a piecemeal concession to the widespread opposition to the closure from across the community, rather than a serious response to the needs of those fleeing violence. Abysmal record The sad truth is that Ireland has an abysmal record of providing adequate services for women and children wishing to escape violence. Safe Ireland’s most recent national data reveals that in 2011 alone, women and children could not be accommodated on 2,573 occasions as the refuge was either full, or there simply was no refuge in their area. In the same year, four out of five women had to be turned away from Dublin service Sonas Housing, while DVAS, a service in Leitrim, Sligo and west Cavan, reports that one out of two women in need of their services has to return to their abuser.

It is a fact that one in five women have been subjected to domestic violence in Ireland. NGOs providing services to women experiencing domestic and sexual violence are witnessing an unprecedented growth in demand for their services. The crisis in the provision of domestic violence services is being played out in the context of increasing funding restrictions.

Dundalk women’s refuge has recently seen a minimum cut of 53 per cent to its budget, and is facing permanent closure, despite having already turned away more than 180 women this year. The severe shortage in services is not isolated to certain areas of the country, but is a systemic problem. Ireland only provides one-third of the EU recommended refuge places of one per 10,000 of the population.

We remain one of a minority of countries that have not yet signed the European convention on violence against women and domestic violence. The convention recognises violence against women as a violation of their human rights, and includes several provisions, including, in article 23, establishment of “appropriate, easily accessible shelters in sufficient numbers to provide safe accommodation for . . . victims”.

In June, I asked Minister for Justice Alan Shatter if Ireland would be signing the convention before the end of our EU presidency. He replied: “I do not envisage this legislation will be published prior to 2014 because of the major legislative agenda and some of the other areas we are dealing with and addressing in the family law area”.

Given that Ireland is not even maintaining its limited service provision, but is actually diminishing it, might it be possible that the State’s reluctance to sign the convention lies in its inability to provide adequate services?

Whatever the reason, the immediate effects of State failure to prioritise the safety of women and children are severely felt by those seeking refuge from violence. Where are those turned away to go?

The most dangerous time for many women is when they have left an abusive household, so failing them at this juncture further endangers them, as their health and lives are put at risk. It is easy to forget the reality of violence with talk of budget overruns or funding shortfalls. However, the litany of abuse endured by women and children in Ireland is not only real, but frightening. The Women’s Aid report for 2012 lists 16,200 disclosures of emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse. This includes “being followed, stalked, and monitored while in the relationship and after”, “being punched and kicked while breast feeding”, “being gagged to stop the screaming”, “being drugged and sexually assaulted”, and “being denied access to household monies for heating, food and clothing for the children.”

Responding to this abuse in the face of funding pressures, local communities have fundraised and volunteered labour. And yet, the long-term viability of services can only be guaranteed through sustained investment and ring-fencing funds.

The downgrading and closure of services places additional pressures on other agencies. And one way or another the State will end up paying in the long term when it could have interrupted the cycle of violence at an early stage. Urgent intervention is now needed to guarantee, at a minimum, the maintenance of existing services and to reverse recent decisions that undermine same.

Good heartiness is a result of proper nutrition and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are various. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the perfect treatment variant for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to bear in mind about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile disfunction, including many blood pressure medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may include erectile malfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

protection of lifeThe Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill was debated in the Dail on Thursday, June 20th, 2013. In his contribution, Mick raised some of the many concerns he has with it, such as the threat of imprisoning women and doctors for up to 14 years, the failure to include provision for fatal foetal abnormalities and Section 9 covering pregnant women who are suicidal. You can watch his speech here or read the transcript below.

This Bill is important symbolically but, in truth, very few women in Ireland will benefit from the legislation.  Very few women will avail of abortion in Ireland because of this Bill.  Women who require medical treatment will continue to be exported out of this country under a veil of silence - hidden, stigmatised, and away from the support network of family and friends.  The same mentality that saw women incarcerated behind the walls of the Magdalen laundries, unsupported and hidden from public view, will continue to prevail in Ireland.

I am glad the legislation has arrived.  We regret that it does not provide for more comprehensive provision of abortion where a woman's life is in danger or in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, which would have been possible even within the limitations of the current constitutional restrictions.

It is ironic that the legislation was published the same day as the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, appeared before an Oireachtas committee to discuss the Government's suicide awareness strategy.  It is clear from this Bill that the Government's concern for those at risk of suicide does not extend to pregnant women.  Under this Bill, a suicidal pregnant woman could potentially have to deal with seven medical practitioners before she is granted access to an abortion.

In A, B and C v. Ireland, the European Court of Human Rights expressed concern about the absence of an effective and accessible domestic procedure in Ireland for establishing whether some pregnancies pose a real and substantial medical risk to the life of the mother.  I ask the Minister to explain how the proposal around suicide in this Bill constitutes an effective and accessible procedure.  The Government should be mindful of other case law from the European Court of Human Rights such as the 2007 Polish case in which the court stated, "once the legislature decides to allow abortion, it must not structure its legal framework in a way which would limit real possibilities to obtain it".  To quote Noeleen Hartigan of Amnesty International Ireland, for a law to be meaningful, it must be accessible.

The proposed Bill falls well short of international human rights standards on women's reproductive rights.  In my view, the proposal for suicidal, pregnant women in this Bill is barbaric.  It is tantamount to torture.  It tells women mental health is not real health.  It tells them the State does not trust them, that they must be interrogated and prove themselves not to be liars.  The Bill is based on the premise that women are manipulative and untrustworthy.  It is an insult to them.  No more than two medical practitioners should be required to assess a woman in such a situation.  The Minister's proposal is neither effective nor accessible for pregnant women.

What are the options for a suicidal pregnant woman who would rather not put herself through this inquisition?  If possible, she may travel abroad to seek a termination, which involves a significant financial cost, and God knows money is scarce in this age of austerity, or she may, like thousands of other women, order the abortion pill on-line and self-administer it at home in Ireland.  The Irish State ignores the former option but will potentially imprison her for up to 14 years for the latter.  The level of hypocrisy is shocking.

The severe criminal penalties for women and doctors in the legislation are completely out of step with international best practice.  Not only are they cruel and unduly harsh, they are ineffective because research has shown criminalisation does not reduce the number of abortions.  Only this week in The Irish Times, Dr. Peadar O'Grady wrote:

A study published in the Lancet medical journal in 2012 reports that restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower rates of abortion.  The region with the highest rate, 32 abortions per thousand women aged 15-44, is Latin America, where 95 per cent of abortions are illegal.  The region with the lowest, 12 abortions per thousand, is western Europe, where abortion is available on broad grounds and almost all are safe and legal...Unsafe abortion, by untrained staff in unsuitable facilities, happens where there is restricted access to legal abortion services and is one of the top three causes of maternal mortality in the world. One of the reasons Ireland can boast such low levels of maternal mortality is that we have access to safe and legal abortion, mainly in the UK.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, has called on states to decriminalise abortion.  He said, "Criminal laws and other legal restrictions on sexual and reproductive health may have a negative impact on the right to health in many ways, including by interfering with human dignity.  Respect for dignity is fundamental to the realisation of all human rights.  Dignity requires that individuals are free to make personal decisions without interference from the state, especially in an area as important and intimate as sexual and reproductive health."  Criminalisation generates and perpetrates stigma.  Criminal laws and other legal restrictions disempower women who may be deferred from taking steps to protect their health to avoid liability and out of fear of stigmatisation.  The likely effects of the criminal penalties in the legislation is that they will make women afraid to disclose information to their doctors about previous abortions and to seek medical assistance in the event of complications arising from an illegal abortion.  Section 22 must be removed from the Bill.

According the latest opinion poll in The Irish Times, 83% of voters support abortion where the fetus is not capable of surviving outside the womb.  For those of us in this Chamber who have taken the time to listen to the harrowing experiences of women forced to terminate much wanted pregnancies abroad due to fatal fetal abnormalities, it is difficult to understand why the Minister refuses to cover these circumstances in the legislation.  As has been stated repeatedly, there are many strong and convincing arguments that abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality could be included in this legislation without the need for constitutional referendum.  The Government argued before the European Court of Human Rights in 2005 that given the circumstances the Irish courts were unlikely to interpret Article 40°3.3 of the Constitution with remorseless logic.  Case law form the European Court of Human Rights indicates that the Council of Europe member states must ensure women seeking lawful terminations are not exposed to inhuman and degrading treatment, contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.  The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has argued that the current treatment of women with pregnancies involving a defined set of fatal fetal abnormalities potentially falls foul of Article 3 of the Constitution.  I commend the families of the campaign group Termination for Medical Reasons, who have worked tirelessly to make legislators and the public aware of this issue and who have shared their deeply personal experiences with us.

Ultimately we must ask if the Bill complies with Ireland's obligation with the European Court of Human Rights' judgment in the A, B and C v. Ireland case.  Does it comply with the European Convention on Human Rights or international human rights standards generally?  It is doubtful that it does for the reasons I have already mentioned.  This was an opportunity for the Government to break with the past and take a real step forward.  It was an opportunity to produce practical, accessible legislation for women whose lives are at risk because of pregnancy.  It is a lost opportunity.

Good soundness is a result of proper supply and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are various. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the perfect treatment variation for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to think about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile dysfunction, including many blood pressure medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may switch on erectile dysfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

Below is a poem by Kevin Higgins, written following recent reports that pregnant women who are at risk of suicide, will need to be assessed by a panel of six doctors before being allowed to undergo an abortion in Ireland.   “The Fine Gael health minister proposes a panel of two obstetricians and four psychiatrists – one of whom must be a perinatal psychiatrist – to asses a woman who is seeking an abortion on the grounds of suicide ideation…there are only three perinatal psychiatrists in the country” The Sunday Times, April 21 ,2013.  

Any woman of child bearing hips,

unfortunate enough to find herself

alive on the patch of weeds between Muff

and Kilmuckridge, or Skibbereen

and Hackballs Cross, must,

to have her baby/babies

legally abhorted , obtain, before she kills her

self, without bribery or offer of

sexual favours, the signatures

of six former members

of the Irish National Liberation Army;

six personal friends of Shane Ross;

six random guys shouting

obscenities in the street;

six women from Barna

who thought Michael D’s speech

last week to the European Parliament

was absolutely marvellous;

six Sean Nós dancers in residence

at accredited universities,

six plumbers who’ll definitely be there

first thing Tuesday morning,

six Dutch guys from Doolin

who make their own clogs, or

six ex-members of the pop group

Six.

 

Kevin Higgins

Good health is a result of proper supply and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are different. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the perfect treatment variant for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to remember about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile disfunction, including many blood pressure medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may include erectile dysfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

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