Aborting is a topic of great debate around the world, due to its political, moral and ethical debate. I believe it is the fundamental right of any woman to decide as to whether or not she has children and to have control over her own body.
A number of countries deny a woman the right to abortion due to religious doctrine. Politics and religious doctrine put these laws into place, some would say to control and dominate woman. We are supposedly living in a world where woman have equal rights but this is sadly not the case in some countries where the right to abortion is denied. According to the World health organisation the Abortion rate worldwide has dropped due to increased use and understanding of modern contraceptives, however abortion rates are similar in countries where abortion is legal and illegal. Currently seven countries in Europe and the Americas ban abortion entirely!
Recently Ireland was in the middle of such controversy when a 31 year old Indian lady Savita Halappanavar died from blood poisoning after being denied an abortion at 17 weeks citing Irelands Catholic social policies. Dr Katherine Astbury, was unable to authorise the termination as under Irish law there had to be a “real and substantial risk” to the patient before termination could be carried out. She believed there was still “a small prospect the foetus would be viable” when Savita first began to show signs of ill health.
Savita was made to wait for three days until the foetus died, she then died four days later in intensive care from multi-organ failure from septic shock and E coli. The inquest ruled that Savita died from “medical misadventure” “Medicine is all about improving patients’ health and life. And look what they did. She was left there to die. It’s horrendous, barbaric and inhuman the way Savita was treated in that hospital,” said husband Praveen Halappanavar.
This case has highlighted a two decade long debate that has been active in Ireland regarding abortion law. A 1992 supreme court ruled that termination was necessary and legal to save a woman’s life, however no actual law has ever been passed due to successive governments in Ireland fearing voter backlash, with many catholic members professing to lobby against it with backing from the Catholic Church. It also leaves doctors in fear of prosecution for murder if they carry out terminations.
Prime Minister Rajoy has also come under pressure by the Catholic Church to repeal the Abortion laws currently in place in Spain. One of Rajoy’s election pledges in 2011 was to repeal the abortion law making it illegal to abort a deformed foetus. However there has been an outcry from socialist members of parliament. Deputy secretary-general Elena Valenciano was quoted as saying “And women, that is to say mothers, don’t they have a word in this? Ministers, judges, bishops, scientists are going to decide what we should do with our motherhood. They know. We obey and shut up. Amen”.
According to a poll published in El Pais in 2012, 81% of Spaniards agree with the right to terminate a foetus when it is malformed. Could Rajoy’s hesitation be because he is actually listening to the voice of the people?
Once again Opus Dei has reared its head in Irish Government with Dr John Crown a Seaned member of the upper house, calling for all members of the two houses of parliament to declare their allegiance to any secret organisations stating “there are potential conflicts of interest if one believes that one is answering to a higher authority than the parliament of the republic”. He believes Opus Dei are a “major player” in preventing abortion laws being put into place. I believe it is a sad state of affairs when politics and religion dictate whether women live or die.