“Through its insistence that women are incapable of deciding what’s best for themselves, through its refusal to trust to women’s “instincts” about their own physical and mental capabilities, the state forces women into an abject position, denying them control over their own bodies, in some cases driving them to suicidality. In other words, the law is not an impartial arbiter. The law turns out to be the instigator of the very circumstances it then claims to regulate.”
The latest fiasco in the long-running saga of Ireland’s denial of abortion rights to women is tragic for regrettably obvious reasons. This time, the main protagonist is a teenage asylum seeker, pregnant as a result of rape, and with uncertain immigration status, who became suicidal, went on hunger strike and was forcibly rehydrated before finally being compelled to undergo a Caesarean section at 23-25 weeks gestation. Her compounded social vulnerabilities prevented her from doing what thousands of other women in Ireland do every year – take a plane to the UK in order to receive the medical attention she required.
But if you step away from the horror and tragedy of it, this story is also farcical, because Ireland has, again and again and again, been called to liberalise its abortion legislation, and again and again and again, Ireland has repeated that it has the best interests of both mother…
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