Open Letter: Lethal Apathy and the Urgency of Legislation on ‘X’

If I was contacting you under normal circumstances I would describe myself as a concerned constituent. Today I’m writing as a grieving constituent, citizen and human being.

Today, like so many others, I am deeply hurt and am forced to question whether a country that wilfully allows a woman to die in excruciating pain based on obscure morality is a country that I can call home. The death of Savita Halappanavar is the direct result of twenty years of political cowardice and moral failure. It is a cause of shame for Ireland’s government and for the Irish people. Please understand the gravity of your decisions and actions on this issue.

In his interview with Time Magazine, the Taoiseach told the international community that abortion “is not of priority for government now.” That attitude, which has persisted in Irish politics for decades, is abhorrent. This doesn’t need a referendum, it doesn’t require public consultation or a lengthy investigation. It requires the government to fulfill its fundamental constitutional responsibilities. The legislative apathy so characteristic of our political system has actually killed someone. What more is this government waiting for?

I am a constituent, a citizen and a human who deserves basic respect and protection from my government. The kind of respect and protection denied to Savita Halappanavar. I want legislation to be introduced to give effect to the X Case as a matter of priority, of urgency, of basic humanity.

Is mise,

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin

I have sent this message to my representatives in Dublin West, but it doesn’t feel like enough. Please join the protest this evening at 6pm outside Leinster House. Hopefully by showing the depth of citizen commitment to change on this issue we can elicit the same commitment from our representatives. This is will become a political battle, but before anything else it’s about a person and a terrible loss. As we fight for change, Savita Halappanavar must be kept in our thoughts and at the centre of our actions. Deepest sympathies to her family, friends and community. 

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4 thoughts on “Open Letter: Lethal Apathy and the Urgency of Legislation on ‘X’

  1. The death of Savita Halappanavar should provoke outrage in anyone truly concerned about the health of women.

    Hopefully the investigation will shed some light on why Mrs. Halappanavar was refused treatment for miscarriage, when this treatment is regularly administered in this country, and is allowed for by the law and by the Medical Council.

    The treatment she needed was legal, so there is no question that a change in the law is what is needed here. It is medical negligence that she was not treated urgently.

    In cases where the fetus is still alive, the Medical Council in part 21.4 of its guidelines for medical doctors states that treatment is allowed EVEN if “there is little of no hope of the baby surviving”.

    The treatment that Mrs. Halappanavar should have received is legal in this country. In fact, it is standard medical procedure in cases like hers. That she wasn’t treated is a failure of the hospital and medical team, not a problem with the law.

    I suspect that the medical council will strike off one or more people because of this and rightly so.

    The greatest thing we can do to honour Savita’s life is to insist on obstetric excellence – that is what saves women’s lives, not abortion.

  2. I disagree with Sarah’s view here where she says that “the treatment she needed was legal, so there is no question that a change in the law is what is needed here”. We do need legislation- medical council guidelines or any guidelines by any professional body are only rules at the end of the day- they are not law and this is why the European Court of Human Rights has slammed the Government for inaction on the issue.

    Unfortunately the complete lack of clarity suits only one group in this country- the pro-life lobby. I have to say that bizarrely enough that I sometimes am almost afraid to actually express my thoughts on the whole issue for fear that it may impact on me professionally or personally at a later date. Its time for transparancy across the board and a time to end the culture of fear which prevents women from speaking out.

  3. As always spot on. I imagine you wont mind if I heavily plagiarise parts of this when talking to Galway west TDs, I emailed them about X last week so I’m simply replying to their responses.

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