I've never been to Ireland
but my grandmother's family came from there and I've always been interested in it. All I know of it is historical, but I learned some surprising stuff about contemporary Ireland in a Financial Times article today ... Ireland: Away from the pulpit
I didn't know, for instance, that Dublin's considered the new Silicon Valley, with hi-tech companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Ebay, and Microsoft located there. I also didn't realize that there's a huge amount of immigration to Ireland, in part due to the country's economic expansion .... about 40, 000 people move there a year ... and Islam is now the fastest growing religion in Ireland. I also learned that 90% of the primary schools in Ireland are run by the Catholic Church, which means many non-Catholics and non-Christians are forced to send their children to them. And I was surprised to read that contraception has only been legal there since 1980 and divorce only since 1997.
It's upon this backdrop that the Irish government's proposed legislative reaction to Savita Halappanavar's death
, and the Church's reaction to that legislation, is now playing out.
As Wikipedia states ...
Under Irish law, according to the Offences against the Person Act 1861, as amended, an unlawful act of abortion is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment. Following a ruling of the Supreme Court of Ireland in 1992—now known in Ireland as the X case—terminations are allowed under certain circumstances, where "a pregnant woman's life was at risk because of pregnancy, including the risk of suicide".
The court ruling has not been codified into law. Peter Boylan, of the Irish Institute of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said: "The current situation is like a sword of Damocles hanging over us. If we do something with a good intention, but it turns out to be illegal, the consequences are extremely serious for medical practitioners."
It was probably because of this confusion that Savita Halappanavar died. After protests, media scrutiny, and investigations ...
On December 18, 2012, after a panel of experts submitted its report to the Parliament recommending, "the government legislate the issue in order to clarify what the current laws actually do and do not permit", Ireland’s Minister of Health, James Reilly, made a public statement marking an impending shift in Government policy, "..we will clarify in legislation and regulation what is available by way of treatment to a woman when a pregnancy gives rise to a threat to a woman’s life.."
Sorry to repeat what everyone already knows, but I just wanted to get the facts, such as they are, straight, so that I could make clear why what Sean Brady
and the pope
have been saying about this situation is not only wrong, but disingenuous too
. They assert this proposed government clarification of an already existing policy (allowing a pregnancy to be terminated if the mother’s life is in danger) is instead something new: the decriminalization of abortion in Ireland.
I'm glad to say that I don't think the Church will be able to strong-arm the Irish government. Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who gave that electrifying speech
after the release of the Cloyne Report
, doesn't seem like the kind of guy who's easily intimidated.