The Eighth Amendment And Human Rights Standards: Irish Abortion Law In An International Context

Barry Gilheany looks at the abortion issue from the perspective of international law.

This article shows how the Eighth Amendment and subsequent case and statute law has made the Republic of Ireland an outlier in terms of international treaties and jurisprudence concerning abortion. I demonstrate that pro-life/anti-abortion arguments for the right to life of foetuses/unborn do not pass muster in any major international and regional human treaties and subsequent case law. Examining international human rights treaties, particularly the European Convention on Human Rights and its judicial organ, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR); I show how the women's right to choose abortion has largely been upheld by such bodies' interpretations of domestic or Member States' law when asked to rule on the relevant provisions.

By contrast I illustrate how Post-Eighth Amendment Irish law has constructed women seeking terminations of pregnancy and their support agencies as alternatively bad actors, virtual wards of court without autonomy and agency or subjects in need of charity or mercy not justice. Such case law increasingly brought the Irish state into conflict with international human rights bodies to which it is a signatory with resultant reputational damage to the Republic of Ireland's international standing. The increasing untenability of Irish case law and the outcry created by the Savita Halappanavar case in October 2012 plus the unsatisfactory nature of the 2013 Prevention of Threats to Life During Pregnancy Act has helped to radically shift the discursive terms of the Irish abortion debate making the removal of the Eighth Amendment/Article 40.3.3 and the introduction of permissive abortion legislation possible.

Arguments for a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy are founded on the principles of her bodily integrity and dignity as a human being and on her adult status as a rights bearers with the agency and autonomy to make responsible life choices without deferral to traditional patriarchal authorities such as the family, Church and the medical profession. Arguments for the right to choose are increasingly being grounded on health and harm reduction arguments as every year at least 70,000 women die from complications related to unsafe abortions, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) figures (in some countries it is further estimated that unsafe abortions account for 13% of all maternal deaths and in some countries it accounts for 60% )[1]. Research carried out by the Alan Guttmacher Institute shows a clear correlation between legal abortion and abortion safety[2]. Opponents of abortion (or the right to choose abortion) argue the unborn child/foetus has the right to life from conception and therein articulate the humanity and personhood of foetal life. They have attempted to co-opt right to life protections laid out in both international and regional law to claim that foetuses bear a similar right to life. Feminists and most human rights advocates argue that such assertions violate women's fundamental rights to life, autonomy and health by imposing involuntary motherhood on women and essentially requiring women to risk their own lives for the lives of their future children[3].

An unsafe abortion is increasingly considered a major public health problem, human rights advocacy for abortion access has gained greater traction. The most explicit pronouncement of women's right to access abortion in the text of a human rights treaty is located in the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (African Women's Protocol), adopted by the African Union on 11th July 2003. The Protocol explicitly states:

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to … protect the reproductive rights of women by authorising medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus.

Thus the African Women's Protocol is the only legally binding human rights instrument to explicitly address abortion as a human right and to affirm that women's reproductive rights are human rights. But there are other international and regional human rights protections that support women's right to safe, legal abortion and in addition to the right to life and health, women's right to abortion is bolstered by the broad constellation of human rights that bolster it, such as rights to privacy, liberty, physical integrity and non-discrimination[4].

The animus behind the promotion of women's reproductive rights has largely been the work of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the 1995 Beijing 1995 Fourth World UN Conference on Women. Significantly, the ICPD Programme of Action confirms that where abortion is legal, the procedure should be accessible and safe. While not explicitly calling for global legalisation of abortion, it confirms that 'women should have access to quality services for the management of abortion-related complications, and [p] ost-abortion counselling, education and family-planning services should be offered promptly, which will also help to avoid repeat abortions'. While international consensus documents are non-binding , such statements are often used to support legislative and policy reform, as well as interpretations of national and international law [5].

Treaty-monitoring bodies' interpretations and jurisprudence have also played a large role in advancing women's reproductive rights. The UN committee structure which oversees member states' compliance with each of the international human rights treaties and regional human rights monitoring systems i.e. the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) created in 1950 by the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Rights adopted by the Council of Europe; the Inter-American Court on Human Rights created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights set up in 1959 as the primary human rights organ of the Organisation of American States and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACPHR) established under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Charter) which was adopted by the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) in 1981[6].

To date, no treaty-monitoring body has explicitly recognised women's right to abortion on request or for socio-economic reasons, nor have they explicitly called for the legalisation of abortion on those grounds. However, the recognition by treaty-monitoring bodies that restrictive abortion laws may force women to resort to illegal,and therefore, unsafe, life-threatening abortions can be utilised by pro-choice advocates to support abortion on request or for socio-economic reasons as I show next[7].

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 (ICCPR) provides an explicit pronouncement of the right to life. Article 6 (1) of the ICCPR states that : 'Every human being has the inherent right to life'. The Human Rights Committee (HRC), the ICCPR's interpretative body, stresses in General Comment No.6 (right to life) that the inherent right to life should be understood in a restrictive manner. General Comment No.6 requires States Parties to take positive action to ensure the right to life , particularly measures to increase life expectancy. Additionally, the HRC's General Comment No.28 on equality of rights between men and women asks States Parties, when reporting on the right to life protected by Article 6, 'to give information on any measures taken by the State to help women prevent unwanted pregnancies and to ensure that that they do not have to undergo clandestine abortions. General Comment No.28 also considers laws or policies where States impose a legal duty upon doctors and other health workers to report cases of women who have undergone abortion, a potential violation of the right to life (Article 6) and the right to be not to be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 7) [8].

The Human Rights Committee has made the link between illegal and unsafe abortions and high rates of maternal mortality. The HRC has further noted that illegal abortions have serious harmful consequences for women's lives, health and well-being. It has raised particular concerns about the criminalisation of abortion, even when the pregnancy is the result of rape and confirmed that such legislation is incompatible with women's right to life under Article 6. The HRC therefore has recommended that States Parties adopt measures to guarantee the right to life for women who decide to end their pregnancies, including ensuring the accessibility of health services and emergency obstetric care. In the HRC's 1998 Concluding Observations to Ecuador, it linked the high rate of suicide among adolescent girls and the restrictions on abortion to find them to be incompatible with adolescents' right to life, and recommended that the State Party adopt all legislative and other measures, including increasing access to adequate health and education facilities, to address the problem[9].

The HRC has also called upon States parties to amend restrictive abortion laws to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions, and to bring laws in line with the ICCPR, specifically Article 6 (right to life). For example, the HRC's Concluding Observation to Poland expressed deep concern regarding the State party's restrictive abortion law which '… incite[s] women to seek unsafe, illegal abortions, with attendant risks to their life and health'[10].

To reduce the rate of abortion and address the prevalence of unsafe abortion, the HRC has recommended increased access to family planning services and education. The HRC has also expressly referenced States' Parties duty to protect all persons' lives and education. For example, the HRC recommended that Chile amend its ban on abortion to include exceptions[11].

With respect to abortion, CEDAW explicitly frames the issue of maternal mortality as a result of unsafe abortions as a violation of women's right to life. To this end, CEDAW has recommended that States Parties increase access to family planning programmes and services, especially to reduce the number of unsafe abortions and maternal mortality rights. It has also recommended making a range of contraceptives and family planning methods more affordable, and giving social security coverage for abortion procedures. Finally, CEDAW has asked States Parties to review legislation making abortion illegal and has praised States Parties for amending their restrictive legislation[12].

Article 6 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (ICRC) protects children's right to life and survival. The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has expressed repeated concern over adolescent girls' access to safe abortion services and the need for States Parties 'to … provide access to sexual and reproductive health services … including … safe abortion services' [13].

Although the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights 1966 (ICESR) does not explicitly confer the right to life, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has repeatedly expressed concern regarding the relationship between high rates of maternal mortality and illegal, unsafe and clandestine abortions and high maternal mortality rates and to permit or consider permitting abortion for therapeutic reasons.[14]

UN Treaty monitoring committees have expressed concern about cases regarding abortion in Ireland. Most notably in 2016 and 2017 the UN Human Rights Committee found that Ireland had violated a number of the rights of the ICPR following complaints taken by Amanda Mellet and Siobhan Whelan, both of whom experienced pregnancies with fatal foetal abnormality. In Ms Mellet's case the UNHRC found a violation of Article 7, namely the prohibition of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The committee was of the opinion that many of these negative experiences could have been avoided had she been able to terminate her pregnancy in the familiar environment of her own country and under the care of the medical professionals whom she knew and trusted.[15]

The Committee also found a violation of Article 17, namely, protecting the right to privacy in that the interference with Ms Mellet's decision on how to cope with her unviable pregnancy was unreasonable and arbitrary. The Committee also found a violation of Article 26, namely equality before the law, due to the financial cost of travelling to the UK. Relying on the same reasons, the Committee also found in the case of Siobhan Whelan violations of Articles 7, 17 and 26; namely prohibition against cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; protecting the right to privacy and equality before the law. The acknowledgement by the Minister of Health, Simon Harris, of the UNHRC's views, an ex gratia payment of 30,000 Euro to the aggrieved party and a detailed itemisation of the steps taken by the State on the facts of the case, further demonstrates the import of the Irish state's international legal obligations for domestic law and policies[16].

In some instances , anti-abortion/pro-life advocates have attempted to co-opt right to life protections set forth within international and regional human rights law to assert that foetuses also bear a right to life. These assertions are incompatible with women's fundamental human rights to life, health and autonomy, by imposing involuntary motherhood onto women and, in essence, requiring women to jeopardise their own lives of their future children. These claims have been defeated on various occasions within both international and regional human rights forums as shall be seen now.

For historical analyses of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR), ICCPR and ICRC – the major international human rights treaties conferring the right to life- confirm that that right does not extend to foetuses. Article 3 of the UDHR, the first pronouncement of the right to life, specifically limits that right to those who have been 'born' In fact, the term 'born' was intentionally used to exclude the foetus or any other ante natal application of human rights. This is confirmed by the fact of the defeat of a proposed amendment to remove the term and protect the right to life from the moment of conception.

Therefore, in the context of abortion, the UDHR limits the right to life to women and girls.[17]

Likewise, the ICCPR rejects the contention that the right to life commences before birth. As with the UDHR, an amendment stating 'the right to life is inherent in the human person from the moment of conception, this right shall be protected by law' was rejected. The HRC has also repeatedly called upon States Parties to liberalise laws which criminalise abortion, a position which negates any supposed right to life for foetuses.[18]

Foetal claims to the right to life brought to the European human rights system have similarly been largely ineffective. When foetal rights claims have been asserted based on Article 2's substantive protections, ECHR bodies have repeatedly found that foetuses do not enjoy an absolute right to life. For example, the European Commission of Human Rights (ECtHR) confirmed in Paton v United Kingdom, that the use of the the term 'everyone' in Article 2 protecting the right to life, does not include foetuses, although it left open the question whether the 'right to life' in Article 2 might cover the 'life' of the foetus, with implied limitations. Dismissing the complaint of the husband-claimant in Paton, the ECtHR confirmed that a foetus' potential right to life did not outweigh the interests of the pregnant woman as the foetus is intimately connected with and cannot be isolated from the life of the pregnant woman.[19]

A similar claim was brought in Boso v Italy when the ECtHR found the contested abortion was not breach of Article 2. It was performed under Italian law which permitted an abortion in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy to protect the woman's physical and mental health thus striking a fair balance between the woman's interest and the state's interest in protecting the foetus. The rejection of the applicant's claim rested partially on the fact that Italy's law protects the health of pregnant women. Since both abortion laws in these cases were fairly permissive, it is unclear whether the ECHR would likewise defer to Member States with less liberal abortion legislation[20].

Thus while the ECtHR has affirmed that foetuses do not possess an absolute right to life, the Court has not ruled unequivocally whether Article 2's protections apply to foetuses, and therefore avoiding any conclusion which may impinge on Member States' abortion laws. When asked for the first time in Vo v France to definitively determine whether foetuses bear the right to life, it avoided doing so by noting there is no European consensus on the scientific and legal definition of the beginning of life.[21] This lack of consensus is the crux of the matter in any ethical debate over abortion and related reproductive rights.

The applicant in Vo argued that her foetus was denied the right to life based on medical negligence which led to her unanticipated therapeutic abortion. The ECtHR ultimately declined to treat the foetus as a 'person' or requiring a homicide prosecution, by deferring the issue to France, in line with the margin of appreciation doctrine. In the Court's view, the civil remedy available in French law was sufficient .[22]

I have already shown how Ireland has been in breach of UN treaty obligations on human rights by virtue of its abortion law. How does the Irish state match up to European human rights standards in respect of its abortion law? Before addressing this question, let us take a brief detour into how the abortion issue in Ireland has been constitutionalised.

The equality between the right to life of the mother and that of the foetus in Article 40.3.3 seems to relate to protection for a woman's physical survival but not her dignity. The Supreme Court judgement in the X-case overturning the enjoinder preventing her from travelling to Britain for an abortion was based on the reasoning that the minor's risk of suicide satisfied the criteria of a “real and substantial” risk to her life. So in order to align the case with the right to life that Ireland guarantees equally to women and the unborn, the Court had to ignore the young woman's agency – her refusal to have sex with her rapist and the consequent risk she might harm herself if forced to bear her rapist's child; instead the Court viewed her case as if concerned a physiological risk from pregnancy[23]. The Court explained that Article 40.3.3 should be interpreted in terms informed by the virtue of charity: “not the charity which consists of giving to the deserving, for that is justice, but the charity which is also called mercy” [24].

Constitutionalism of the abortion issue in such a form is paternalist, in its conception of women as well as the unborn. It sees women as dependents who may deserve protection; protection against injuries to their physical and emotional welfare, rather than to their autonomy. Constitutionalism in this form tends to incorporate traditional gendered role based views of women's citizenship – for example that the burdens of pregnancy are naturally assumed by women, or by women who have consented to sex, except when such burdens exceed what is normally to be expected of women, at which point women may be exempt from penal sanction for aborting a pregnancy[25].

As explained earlier the European Court of Human Rights has tended not to adjudicate on substantive claims to abortion; it makes rulings when clear and certain abortion laws are the objective of claims made to it and this was the primary focus of A,B, and C v Ireland. This case was structured on a division between substantial and procedural abortion rights which proved consequential in judgement. Applicants A and B argued but lost a substantive challenge to the Irish law, seeking to legalise abortion in the case of health. Applicant C won a procedural right to life-saving abortion, the only legal ground for abortion in Ireland[26]  - (as things stand currently of course).

Applicant C suffered from a rare form of cancer and was advised that her pregnancy might affect her prognosis and . She argued that because of the chilling nature of Irish abortion law, she could not receive accurate information about the risks of pregnancy. Her claim against the Irish state rested on the claim that legal responsibility cannot be vested solely in the medical profession 'given the lack of clarity as to what constitutes [in the words of the Supreme Court judgement in the X case] “a real and substantial risk to life” … [and] the chilling effect of severe criminal sanctions for doctors whose assessment could be considered ex post facto to fall outside that qualifying risk.[27]'.

The European Court agreed because the primary deficiency in A, B, and C was not conflicts of interpretation per se, with whom interpretive authority should lie, but that the repeated interpretations required of Irish abortion law. It found that the regulatory framework was defective not in the failure to clarify the legal grounds for abortion, nor in the absence of a resolution of the conflict over them, but in its failure to constrain the arbitrary actions of doctors – the discretion the law afforded them to impose their views on women, and to thus thwart the intentions of the law[28].

That the European Court sided in A, B, and C with the national institution is charged with rights protection, i.e. the Irish Supreme Court is no coincidence. It deliberately tracked expressions of regret by the Irish judicial authority that;

Article 40.3.3 had not been implemented by legislation … that, when enacting that Amendment, that people were entitled to believe that legislation would be introduced to regulate the manner in which the right to life of the unborn and the right to life of the mother could be reconciled.

To underline the European Court's preference for procedural rather than substantive challenges to national abortion laws, it refused the case, D v. Ireland, brought for its lack of a legal ground in Irish abortion law on foetal impairment on the grounds that the applicant had not explored all domestic avenues of redress.

Since one of the justifications given by the Pro Life Amendment Campaign in the early 1980s for inserting an anti-abortion clause into the Constitution was that it would forestall any attempt by a domestic or European Court to foist legal abortion upon an unwilling Irish populace; it is worth reflecting on a structural principle of the European human rights system: subsidiarity. Bearing in mind the touchstone issue of abortion and how it feeds into discussions on “Irishness” and Irish “identity”, the European Court affirmed in one its formative cases, (The Belgian Linguistic Case (No 2) (1968) 1 E.H.R.R, 252, at para. 10) the Court affirmed that it will not5 “assume the role of the competent national authorities … [lest it] lose weight of the subsidiarity nature of the international machinery of … the Convention”[29]. Within the system, states are to retain the primary responsibility for rights protection.

In abortion case law, the principle of subsidiarity tends to be articulated in the margin of appreciation, a doctrine by which the European Court gives state authorities great latitude to decide on the substantive content of their abortion laws. The wide margin offered to Ireland in A, B, and C was justified by the lack of consensus in Europe on the morality of abortion and by the “lengthy, complex and sensitive debate in Ireland. By dint of their constant contact and interaction with domestic,democratic deliberation, state authorities are better qualified than an international judge to balance the conflictual and competing rights and interests in an abortion law [30].

The death of Savita Halappanavar where the investigation found “an apparent over-emphasis on the need not to intervene until the foetal heart stopped together with an under-emphasis on … managing the risk of infection and sepsis in the mother” and named the lack of clear clinical guidance on lawful abortion a “material contributory factor” in the doctor's decision making silenced any arguments about the usurpation of constitutional rights of the Irish people by the European Court[31] and set in train national and international outrage over Ireland's cruel yet legally vague abortion regime.

The outcome of this latest collective national angst over abortion was the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013 which, if for nothing else, can be critiqued for its doublespeak; conservative critics feared that the procedural rights which the Act enables would rupture the right-to-life exception wide open and permit access to abortion well beyond the boundaries of the substantive law while liberalisation advocates complained that the Act does not construe access to legal abortion as a constitutional right. Rather than granting entitlements; the Act is couched in the language of permission: what is lawful and what does or does not constitute an offence. Most problematic of all the Act's procedures is certification; a woman can only access a lawful abortion on the verification of an obstetrician and a relevant specialist that there is a “real and substantial risk” to her life and in the case of suicidal ideation, the assent of three specialists is required. If she is denied permission, a woman can apply in the “prescribed form and manner” for a review of the decision and she is entitled to be heard by the review committee, the one single mention of the word in the Act[32].

In evidence given to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, the human rights scholar Christine Zampas cites the report of his visit to Ireland by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights reporting in which he states that the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution [ …] departs from the position consistently held by human rights bodies that the right to life as enshrined in relevant international treaties, does not apply to prenatal life”[33]. In addition Zampas cites a landmark case against Peru in which a sexually assaulted child was not given an abortion in part because of state measures to protect foetal life and which the UNEDW found to be violation of the Convention as conformation that foetal interests cannot trump the human rights of women and girls[34].

From feminist, human rights, justice and public health perspectives, Irish abortion law fails all procedural and substantive legal tests. The relationship between the Eighth Amendment and the case law and medical practice it has spawned and that of international human rights treaties shows that Irish abortion law is not just as an outlier but that Ireland has been a violator of the obligations it has entered into as a signatory to more than one of the six human and civil rights conventions; both on procedural and substantive grounds. The Eighth Amendment is not fit for purpose not least because it manifestly fails to do what is says on the tin: guarantee protection of life of the unborn with, as far as practicable, due regard to the equal right to life of the mother. Article 40.3.3, its sui genesis case law and the medical tragedies that have arguably been caused by it has sought to protect the physical existence of an entity with the potential for life but around which there is no consensus as to when its life actually commences and only protects, in extremis, the physical life of the pregnant woman; not her bodily integrity, dignity and capacities for agency and autonomy The Eighth Amendment's grandiloquent assertions of the sanctity of the life of the unborn says nothing about and does not encourage discussion about the quality of life before and after birth in terms of maternity care, childcare, nutrition and threats to unborn life from a future Thalidomide. Repeal of the Eighth Amendment and the passage of abortion legislation in line with the Western European norm but which balances appropriately the dignity and autonomy of the woman with societal interest in the development of foetal life will mark the moment that the Republic asserts proper sovereignty among the community of liberal democratic nations. It will have definitively cast away the shackles of British Victorian morality, ultramontane Catholicism and US Moral Majority colonisation that the Eighth Amendment really signified not; not the beacon of light of Christianity onto the decadent, secularising nations of the world that its stormtroopers proclaimed it to be.

[1]Christina Zampas and Jaime M. Gher Abortion as a Human Right – International and Regional Standards Human Rights Law Review 8:2 (2008)

[2]Alan Guttmacher Institute Abortion in Context: United States and Worldwide', May 1999, available at;,html

[3]Zampas and Gher, p.262

[4]Ibid pp.250-51

[5]Ibid p.253

[6]Ibid, p.255

[7]Ibid, p.255

[8]Ibid p.256

[9]Ibid p.257

[10] Ibid p.258

[11]Ibid p.258

[12]Ibid pp.258-59

[13]Ibid p.260

[14]Ibid p.261

[15]Emily Logan Constitutional Issues Arising from the Citizens' Assembly Recommendations. Proceedings of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. Houses of the Oireachtas 4th October 2017

[16]Emily Logan, Ibid

[17]Zampas and Gher: p.262

[18]Zampas and Gher: p.263

[19]Zampas and Gher: p.264

[20]Zampas and Gher: p.265

[21]Zampas and Gher: p.265

[22]Zampas and Gher: p.266

[23]Reva Siegel The Constitutionalisation of Abortion pp 13-35 at pp.30-31 in Rebecca Cook, Joanna N.Erdman and Bernard M. Dickens ( 2014) Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective Philadelphia; University of Philadelphia Press Studies in Human Rights.

[24](Attorney-General v. X and others [1992] 1 IR 1, para. 32 (citing McGee v. Attorney-General [1974] IR 284, 318-9)

[25] Siegel in Cook et al p.31

[26]Johanna N. Erdman “The Procedural Turn: Abortion and the European Court of Human Rights” pp. 121-142 at p.125 in Cook et al

[27], B and C v Ireland, note 18, at para.178

[28]Erdman pp.125-26

[29]Ibid p.130

[30]Ibid, pp.130-

[31] Ibid, p.134

[32]Ibid, pp.134-35

[33]Christina Zampas Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eight Amendment Proceedings 4th October 2017

[34]Christina Zampas, Ibid#

➽ Barry Gilheany is the author of a PhD thesis Post-Eighth Abortion Politics in the Republic of Ireland from Essex University, Department of Government. He is also the author of The Discursive Construction of Abortion in Georgina Waylen & Vicky Randall (Eds) Gender, The State and Politics Routledge, 1998. This is the first in a series of articles that he will be writing for TPQ in the course of the abortion referendum campaign in the Republic of Ireland. He is currently resident in Colchester, Essex.



    no offence barry but i stopped after i got to savita, i glanced over the rest of the article and figured lifes too short. also, i bet you didnt mention the baby. you abortionists are great at 'disappearing' the children.


  2. Savita Halappanavar inquest
    Wed, May 1, 2013, 06:00

    Sir, – The recent inquest on Savita Halappanavar has raised important issues about hospital infection in obstetrics. Much of the public attention appears to have been directed at the expert opinion of Dr Peter Boylan who suggested that Irish law prevented necessary treatment to save Ms Halappanavar’s life. We would suggest that this is a personal view, not an expert one.

    Furthermore, it is impossible for Dr Boylan, or for any doctor, to predict with certainty the clinical course and outcome in the case of Savita Halappanavar where sepsis arose from the virulent and multi drug-resistant organism, E.coli ESBL.
    What we can say with certainty is that where ruptured membranes are accompanied by any clinical or bio-chemical marker of infection, Irish obstetricians understand they can intervene with early delivery of the baby if necessary.

    Unfortunately, the inquest shows that in Galway University Hospital the diagnosis of chorioamnionitis was delayed and relevant information was not noted and acted upon.
    The facts as produced at the inquest show this tragic case to be primarily about the management of sepsis, and Dr Boylan’s opinion on the effect of Irish law did not appear to be shared by the coroner, or the jury, of the inquest.

    Obstetric sepsis is unfortunately on the increase and is now the leading cause of maternal death reported in the UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths . Additionally there are many well-documented fatalities from sepsis in women following termination of pregnancy. To concentrate on the legal position regarding abortion in the light of such a case as that in Galway does not assist our services to pregnant women.
    It is clear that maternal mortality in developed countries is rising, in the US, Canada, Britain, Denmark, Netherlands and other European countries. The last Confidential Enquiry in Britain (which now includes Ireland) recommended a “return to basics” and stated that many maternal deaths are related to failure to observe simple clinical signs such as fever, headache and changes in pulse rate and blood pressure. Many of the failings highlighted in Galway have been described before in these and other reports.

    The additional problem of multi-resistant organisms causing infection, largely as a result of antibiotic use and abuse, is a serious cause of concern and may lead to higher death rates in all areas of medicine.

    Ireland’s maternal health record is one of the best in the world in terms of our low rate of maternal death (including Galway hospital). The case in Galway was one of the worst cases of sepsis ever experienced in that hospital, and the diagnosis of ESBL septicaemia was almost unprecedented among Irish maternity units.

    It is important that all obstetrical units in Ireland reflect on the findings of the events in Galway and learn how to improve care for pregnant women. To reduce it to a polemical argument about abortion may lead to more – not fewer – deaths in the future. – Yours, etc,

    Dr JOHN MONAGHAN, DCH FRCPI FRCOG Consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, Portiuncula, Galway; Dr CYRIL THORNTON, MB BCh MRCOG, Consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, Cork Clinic; Dr EAMON Mc GUINNESS, MB BCh MRCOG, Consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, Mount Carmel Hospital, Dublin; Dr TREVOR HAYES, MB BCh FRCS MRCOG, Consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, St Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny; Dr CHRIS KING, MB DCH MRCOG Consultant Obstetrician/ Gynaecologist, Letterkenny General Hospital; Dr EILEEN REILLY, MB ChB MRCOG, Consultant Obstetrician/ Gynaecologist, Galway Clinic; Prof JOHN BONNAR, MD FRCPI FRCOG, Prof Emeritus Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Trinity College Dublin; Prof EAMON O’DWYER, MB MAO LLB FRCPI FRCOG, Prof Emeritus Obstetrics & Gynaecology, NUI Galway; Prof STEPHEN CUSACK, MB BCh FRCSI, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Cork University Hospital; Dr RORY PAGE, MB BCh FFA RCSI, Consultant Anaesthetist, Cavan General Hospital; Dr JAMES CLAIR, MB BCh PhD FRCPath, Consultant Microbiologist, Mercy University Hospital, Cork

  3. Grouch,

    your last comment is most likely libellous and will not be run.

  4. i cant remember! and don't get in trouble over me oldstock!

    when the truth is censored for fear of libel, and lies published in the name of free speech, the ghost of george orwell isn't far from us.

  5. Grouch,

    easy solved.

    If you really believe what you are saying and have the courage of your convictions, post it under your own name on your own blog or Facebook page and we shall link to it. Simple as.

  6. Anthony a chara, first of all - i like being anonymous grouch here and secondly, i most certainly have the courage of my convictions and have published elsewhere (online) under my own name on the referendum and you'll be glad to hear the cops never called, nor indeed will they be calling, because the pro-abortionists like doctor grimes and killy hottand certainly dont want their asses brought before the courts and have their odious lies brought to scrutiny. the thing is Anthony - they know they're lying. killy knows, grimes knows, and the whole pro-abortion lobby will be in full on lie mode between now and referendum day as i have mentioned in all my comments on this issue.

  7. Grouch,

    if true you will have no problem sending us a link and we can read what you have the courage to say. You can hardly expect us to take the word of an anonymous poster on such a risk fraught matter without being able to stand it up.

  8. anthony - whats this - if true - shit about? seriously. also, have u trouble reading plain english - i said i like being anonymous grouch here. you'll also be glad to hear that i didnt leave sf out of the article i wrote nor did i leave the south armagh oil bandit psycho scum out of it in posts that followed my article and indeed referred to them as such - and always will. so, a chara, i have plenty of courage and dont need to put up with bullshit like ur comment there. and if what ive said isnt true Anthony - well then im in the same boat as killy and grimes - the pathological lying boat that is going to sink any day soon under the weight of lies in the cargo. but im not, and you will probably find out yourself soon enough. as for this site - im grouch. i am the marvelous marvin hagler of this site if it was fighting, and grimes and killy are big daddy and giant haystacks.

  9. Grouch,

    if you like being plain Grouch, then don't set us up to take a hit while you use the shield of anonymity. The courage of conviction lies in having the character to stand over it. You either have it or have not. The proof of the pudding lies not in the anonymity.

  10. Anthony - you obviously do have a problem with PLAIN english as i noted above. please read slowly over what ive written again - you will eventually understand im sure - not that its particularly difficult. i explained CLEARLY that i have written under my own name elsewhere on the net on the pro-abortionist torrent of lies and liars. it was very well received and no lawsuits were issued. you choose not to believe me. fair enough. the online referendum debate DOESNT revolve around this site. if this site was fighting - this is you

  11. Grouch,

    show the same courage as Kitty Holland and stand over what you say. Call her a criminal scumbag while hiding behind a penname will not pass here. Either piss or get of the pot. Invisible people invisible rights.

  12. Anthony - there is enuf in ur comment there for an entire conference! And even the most hard nosed pro-abortion propagandist would probably advise you against using the phrase - invisible people invisible rights. That is exactly what the innocent defenceless child in the womb is to killy and her courageous comrades in the corporate media. and the soros funded ngos. and the abortion and spare parts industry too. they are invisible people with invisible rights - bad choice of phrase Anthony. and just listen to yourself dictating to stand over what i say. i fucking do. reluctantly, i have to admit that you do have a problem with plain english and do think the online referendum debate revolves around ur site. maybe you should have a banner on your homepage warning anonymous posters of your impending wrath if they challenge any of your abortionist luvvies. maybe the homepage should say 'offensive censorer' as opposed to whats there now - 'censor offender.' so who else will you not allow being called a criminal scumbag here? or is it just pro abortionist propagandists you have issues being challenged. a first year journalism student can tell you the what why who and where of her savita story . but you choose to indulge her. fair enuf. you bragged here not that long ago that you are on the right side of history. that might be true. but you are not on the right side of the truth. you are with the powerful on this one Anthony, the billion dollar abortion and spare parts industry, the Soros funded NGO's, the establishment. I'm on the baby's side - anonymously here, and under my own name elsewhere - my name my choice a chara.

  13. Grouch,

    invisible people invisible rights is an internet term for those who use anonymity to hide behind. Nothing to do with abortion.

    If you want to attack Kitty Holland have the courage to do so with your own name. Bit odd you would name her but not yourself.

    You are quite entitled to challenge anybody and got fair wind here to do it. You don't have any entitlement to hide while you call names. I engaged with you up until you went off the rails, threatening to put holes in people's heads. People driven to those lengths are best left to their own devices.

    I am not going to waste any more time on this. You know the way the site operates. If you don't like it, you can go elsewhere. End of.

  14. sorry Anthony but im well aware of what it means, but i used ur unfortunate phrase (considering the subject matter we are discussing) against you. its called debating.

    as for ur second point - why killy? is it just her? judging by your logic any anonymous posters on this site are lacking courage as you call it by attacking people. thats a hell of a lot of posters over the years! youve never pulled me or anybody else for having a go at your own bete-noirs like danny gerry and co. theyve been called a lot worse by anonymous posters than criminal scumbag. also, did i say her name or did i say the criminal scumbags in the irish times? i think its the latter in this case and you jumped the gun - maybe its you who thinks shes the criminal scumbag! maybe im wrong, but then again im hardly far from it!

    where did i threaten to put holes in peoples heads - oh are u talking about the time i jokingly threatened to put my pike through the head of anyone who tried to vaccinate me against my will. now ur being silly. and if u watched the video i recommended of the three abortion clinic workers in america you would have heard them say that is exactly what the abortionist on trial did to babies who survived outside the womb - literally stick holes in their heads to finish them off. thats what courageous killy is all for. so thats ur bad to bring up my comment Anthony considering that. see, ur on the losing side in this'debate' because you and ur chumms are on the side that tries to legitimize the completely indefensible and ergo have no arguments only mindless propaganda and threats of lawsuits and utter bullshit and lies. as for me not knowing the way the site operates , i think its you who is having a problem on that front, but at the end of the day its your site, your choice.