Socialist Party amendment to Sinn Féin motion on the death of Savita

This afternoon Joe Higgins TD on behalf of the Socialist Party submitted an amendment to the Sinn Féin private members’ motion on the death of Savita Halappanavar.

Deputy Higgins said:

“The private member’s motion correctly extends sympathy to the family of Savita Halappanavar and calls for the government to legislate on the basis of the X case Supreme Court ruling from 1992.

“However there is no absolute guarantee that the enactment of such legislation would prevent further tragedies similar to what happened to Ms Halappanavar. Therefore my amendment seeks to prevent a false construct separating the life from the health of the woman.

“Likewise the Socialist Party amendment seeks to represent accurately the emerging change in public opinion on the matter of abortion rights. Other than the extreme case of the life of the mother being endangered it should be entirely uncontroversial to legislate for terminations in the case of rape, incest as well as the physical and mental health of the woman at her request.

“Our amendment seeks to bring into the Dáil debate this week a full recognition of the daily reality of abortion for thousands of women in Ireland who are compelled to overcome financial and logistical obstacles to access safe terminations in Britain. This situation must be brought to an end by the repealing of the eighth amendment which now must be a key demand of the pro-choice movement on the streets and among its advocates in the Dáil.

“Finally I urge people to come out again and protest outside the Dáil from 6pm tomorrow when the debate is taking place but also to coincide with the International Day of Action in favour of abortion rights in Ireland which is being marked by protests outside Irish embassies and consulates around the world.”

The motion is below with the amendment in bold type

That Dáil Éireann:

  • Extends its deepest sympathy to the family of Savita Halappanavar and recognises that news of her death in such tragic and traumatic circumstances has caused distress to people throughout the country and beyond.
  • Resolves to await the outcome of the ongoing inquiries into all aspects of this tragedy.
  • Acknowledges that the Oireachtas must legislate to give effect to the 1992 judgment of the Supreme Court (the ‘X’ case).
  • Further acknowledges that the absence of the required legislation denies women protection and the right to obtain a termination in life- threatening circumstances. It also creates an ambiguous legal situation for clinicians in those same circumstances.
  • Regrets that successive governments and Ministers for Health have failed to legislate in this regard.
  • Calls on the Government to;
  • immediately publish the report of the expert group.
  • immediately introduce legislation to give effect to the 1992 judgement of the Supreme Court in the ‘X’ case, to protect pregnant women where their lives are in real danger and to give legal certainty to medical professionals

Amendment  to Private Members Motion in the name of Joe Higgins, etc

Furthermore Dail Eireann:

  • Calls on the Minister for Health to instruct the Health Service Executive to issue a directive to all hospitals ensuring that a timely termination of pregnancy takes place when the life of a woman is threatened by its continuation and when the woman requests such treatment;
  • Notes that the 1992  Supreme Court  judgement in the X case, seeks to protect the life and not necessarily the health of the woman, leaving healthcare workers in a position where they are compelled to tolerate a threshold of illness, suffering and deteriorating health in a pregnant woman, including to the point that her life is endangered;

  • Calls for the drafting of legislation providing – where this is requested by a woman for termination of a pregnancy which threatens her mental or physical health and in cases of conception by rape or incest and for an informed national debate on the constitutional change that would be needed to allow such legislation to be enacted;

  • Accepts that in the final analysis the choice to terminate a pregnancy is that of the woman and that this choice continues to be exercised daily by women in Ireland and that by not legislating for free, safe and legal abortion rights in Ireland this government is simply imposing financial and geographical obstacles in front of women exercising their choice