Tag Archives: abortion

via Impact Ethics – Commentary by Rachael Johnstone: Privileging Infertility over Abortion in New Brunswick

whath/t Sanda Rodgers for this very interesting piece by Dr. Rachael Johnstone.

Privileging Infertility over Abortion in New Brunswick at Impact Ethics blog

If it were part of a larger commitment to create a spectrum of women’s reproductive health services, the infertility fund could be laudable. However, when contrasted with the government’s long held, paternalistic stance against the creation of substantive access to abortion, it suggests more alarming commitments. Validating the desires of women to have children by investing money in expensive (often unsuccessful) treatments, while simultaneously denying the rights of those facing unwanted pregnancies by failing to provide relatively minimal financial support, suggests deeply troubling views of women’s reproductive rights. If pregnancy is the only reproductive choice the government supports, what happens to women who do not want to reproduce, or are unable or unwilling to support a child? What do these policies say about the value of women’s contributions to the community? Moreover, without clear policy guidelines to protect the health of women who undergo infertility treatment, what message is the government sending about the importance of women’s health?

 

Twitter Roundup (for those who are picky about the bandwagons they jump on)

woman-computer-vintage(unless otherwise noted, tweets are from @OsgoodeIFLS)

Conferences/Workshops/Summer Schools

Judicial Philosophy ‏@JudicialPhil Reminder: Job: Post-Doctoral Fellowships 2014-2015 – University of Singapore (DL: 31.12) http://tinyurl.com/m7rfny5

Rosa Freedman ‏@GoonerDr 24 Oct   The International Graduate Legal Research Conference http://bit.ly/167dbTO

Rory O’Connell ‏@rjjoconnell 25 OctSummer Schools for Human Rights and Legal Studies — 2014 http://international-justice.com/2013/10/25/summer-schools-for-human-rights-and-legal-studies-2014/

Claire Potter ‏@TenuredRadical [do you read Claire Potter’s column in the Chronicle of Higher Ed? Definitely worth it] What is more fun than a summer institute son #transnationalfeminisms?  http://bit.ly/17zdLL8

Go/Read/Watch

Rashmee Singh Migrant #Mediators, #Gender #Violence & #Women’s Empowerment in #toronto diaspora Fri [NOVEMBER 9] @UofT http://bit.ly/1aYoFed  h/t ABhatia

Matthew Weait ‏@ProfWetpaint Podcast of Angela Davis’ lecture at Birkbeck: http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2013/10/angela-davis-freedom-is-a-constant-struggle-closures-and-continuities/

Kate Sutherland RT @LawandLit: In Bed w the Police: Katrina Forrester reviews ‘Undercover’ Evans & Lewis · LRB http://feedly.com/k/HpW5HP   #police #gender #race

Kate Sutherland ‏@LawandLit 30 Oct Paper on Critical Race Theory and Crtical Race Feminism and the Unbanked – CL&P Blog  http://feedly.com/k/16MEbup

Oct #Strikes on at UK universities this week. http://bit.ly/1aKStL5   Why?  Here http://bit.ly/1ix9kSw   here http://bit.ly/1aKStL7  #highered

 

Feminist Playlists

Spending Sunday in the office or otherwise working? #Feministplaylists. Maybe they help? 1/4 Bitchtapes http://bit.ly/1cCCEFK

#Feministplaylists 2/4 tumblr feministsongs http://bit.ly/1cCCZbo

#Feministplaylists 3/4 @crunkfeminists  ▶ this is how we do it: an independence day mix  http://bit.ly/HA8KIz  #sundayattheoffice

4/4 Leslie and Ellie’s Essential #Feminist Playlist via The F Word Feminist Media Collective http://bit.ly/1cCEkil  a little #cancon

What’s an Honour Crime?

project in Van against “honour crimes” 1 of 600 feds support w similar goals. http://bit.ly/1aKVjQ   is this where ALL the VAW  $ is going?

Facts of this case may surprise you, given tags. #SCC #provocation #VAW #imminence http://scc.lexum.org/decisia-scc-csc/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/13308/index.do #feminist #crimlaw, what say you?

Reproductive Rights

RT @LegalScholBlog: CFP: Abortion & Assisted Reprodctn ; Workshop deadline Nov18 special issue J l, med #ethics . http://bit.ly/1ciSxkv

‏@StepanWood @OsgoodeIFLS check out this article by @vanessa_macd & @JulaHughes in @OHLJ on the German abortion decisions http://j.mp/1atsDwT

Donncha O’Connell ‏@donnchanuig Rights bodies secure permission to make arguments in surrogacy appeal http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/rights-groups-secure-permission-to-make-arguments-in-surrogacy-appeal-1.1581384#.UnQ5gz3GYDs.twitter  … via @IrishTimes

What happens when #women cannot get late #abortions #oklahoma #law #poverty http://flip.it/Ha7Yw   #hypocrisy

Pregnant Woman Fights Wisconsin Fetal Rights Laws http://flip.it/Fc5ph

The Conversation ‏@ConversationEDU Sex-selective abortion is challenging our views about reproductive freedom @Macquarie_Uni http://bit.ly/1aln9V5

Sara R. Cohen ‏@fertilitylaw 29 Oct Australia approves #PGD for #sex selective #IVF for the 1st time to avoid high risk of #autism http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/19457937/baby-sex-checks-for-autism /  …

Faux-Feminism –  Brocialism – MRA’s & the misguided

@bellhooks at @feministwire with  Dig Deep: Beyond Lean In http://bit.ly/16FkJ2r   #fauxfeminism #neoliberal What do you think?

Brand, iconoclasm, and a #woman’s place in the #revolution Laurie Penny takes on #Brocialism http://www.newstatesman.com/laurie-penny/2013/11/discourse-brocialism  …

‏ Have a read. RT @LauraGraham86: A Good Men’s Rights Movement Is Hard to Find: http://flip.it/qDpHz   via @theprospect #MRA

@sarahjkeenan Selma James on why sex workers don’t need the ‘protection’ of dickish sexist men http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/01/sex-workers-hands-off-my-whore-france-prostitutes  …

Sexual Assault

Corey R. Yung on Rubenfeld’s Big Step Backward in Rape Law @FeministLawPrfs http://bit.ly/1aNMHoD

Advising #Women Against #Drinking Sends a Dangerous Message – NYT http://bit.ly/1adP0m8   #Philosophy prof breaks down the problem.w analogy!

First Nations /School/Access/Heroes/resistance

Wanda Nanibush #idlenomore Histories of #Indigenous #women’s #resistance November 12 Toronto (poster) http://bit.ly/16S2jf3  Wanda Nanibush, Dame Nita Barrow distvisitor at Centre for Women’s Studies in Education lectures Nov 12 #idlenomore  http://bit.ly/16S1W4b

Allison Fenske ‏@AllisonFenske 26 Oct .@WabKinew’s beautiful words in @walrusmagazine · The Residential School Apology · http://ow.ly/qcvas

New DC Comics superhero inspired by young Cree activist – Shannen Koostachin –   h/t Deb Parkes http://bit.ly/HA9zRN

Ntawnis ‏@NtAwNiS 28 Oct “I deserve access to my school!” FN youth living w disabilities access to #Education esp. dificult in the North. #INM pic.twitter.com/16mxfneHr3

Women in Law

Amicae Curiae ‏@amicae1 25 Oct  RT @LIVPresident: Interesting article from @katgallow on women in the institutions of the law: http://ow.ly/q2LzW  #lawyers #auslaw

Rothna Begum ‏@Rothna_Begum For the 1st time ever in #Saudi a female lawyer @bayanzahran1 appeared in court to represent a client http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20131102185483  …  via @ahmed

like, awesome. Biglaw Memo From Top #law Firm Advises #Women ‘Don’t Giggle,’ Don’t squirm’ plus! clothing tips!   http://bit.ly/1hfBSSz

Need something to read? Twitter Roundup Part II

News-ish

@JillFilipovic 18 Sep  In the @munkdebate feminist universe, all the men are obsolete and all the women are white. http://www.munkdebates.com/debates/the-end-of-men  

@MacleansMag 19 Sep Canada rejects UN rights panel call for review of violence on aboriginal women http://ow.ly/p0U9S   #cdnpoli

Cases

UK Judge Rules Defendant Must Remove Niqab to Testify | Dressing Constitutionally for @robsonconlaw analysis & precis http://bit.ly/19ey8cY

Academic-ish

New in print [NIP] : Choudhury on #Governance #Feminism & #Afghan #Women http://flip.it/fVHJ9

‏Sep Fascinating and splendid. @PaulbernalUK mix of law, levity & analysis: Disney princesses, on-line identity & privacy http://paulbernal.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/online-privacy-and-identity-and-disney-princesses/  

Not so Academic 

@rgay 13 Sep Today at The Rumpus, Lizzy Acker writes about abortion in one of the most compelling ways I’ve seen; http://therumpus.net/2013/09/love-love-love/  

RT @Longreads: “Portrait of a Ten-year-old #Girl.”  http://flip.it/fWP7O   cc: #statisticsbroughttolife

@balkissoon 19 Sep By me, in the Globe: stop bossing pregnant women around. Right now. http://m.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/a-few-drinks-while-pregnant-isnt-bad-but-the-new-maternal-puritanism-is/article14406909/?service=mobile  

Life and Law

#Lawstudents don’t disqualify yourselves! why not read: The #Habits Of Supremely #Happy People http://flip.it/1jgyr

“Busy” Is Not a Badge of Honor via @lifehacker: We need to work smarter, not harder http://flip.it/apQ6U  

Ireland, Abortion, & Savita Halappanavar

Yesterday, The other day (this post is taking longer than it should) the Jury in an Irish Coroner’s Inquest which considered the events leading to the 31 year old dentist’s death on October 28, 2012, returned a verdict of death by medical misadventure.

Dr Peter Boylan, the former master of the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin, told the inquest that Savita would probably still be alive today if she had got a termination in the first three days of her stay in the hospital, but that under Irish law an abortion would have been illegal because there was “not a real and substantial risk to her life at that stage”.

And by the time her life was at risk, it was too late to save her with a termination.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22204377

The story of Ireland and abortion of course is far more than the story of Savita, but this case has brought the issue back to the legislature and the headlines.  In this post, I’m just trying to put most of the story on one page so that those who haven’t followed it so far can catch up.  My main resource for doing this, as you will see, will be links to the fab Human Rights in Ireland blog, a collective with some amazing authors – including Mairead Enright,  Fiona de Londras, an academic focused on international human rights, who is at Durham in the UK.  Another is posts over at Inherently Human: Critical Perspectives on Law, Gender and Sexuality ,an “unabashedly feminist” blog run by a team of lecturers at Durham.
Inherently human was “established to support the work of scholars and activists whose work engages critically with the relationship between law, gender and sexuality. In this respect, it is unabashedly feminist in its focus, welcoming contributions from the spectrum of contemporary feminisms, as well as writing from the fields of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans legal studies, on any relevant substantive topic. The name of the weblog is drawn from a quotation from the US feminist activist and writer Robin Morgan: “Women are not inherently passive or peaceful. We’re not inherently anything but human.””

Shortly after the Savita story hit the Irish press, de Londras posted Abortion in Ireland: How much more of this can we tolerate? in which she describes two cases which set the scope of the legal debates currently in play, the  X Case (a domestic Irish case from 1992) and A, B & C v Ireland (an ECHR case from 2010):

The constitutional right to access an abortion arises only in situations where “it is established as a matter of probability that there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother, which can only be avoided by the termination of her pregnancy”. This is the test laid down by the Supreme Court in the infamous X Case, concerning whether or not a 14 year old girl who was pregnant as a result of rape and suicidal as a result had a right to access abortion. The Supreme Court could not have expressed the test more clearly in this case. Neither could it have done in numerous subsequent cases since then when it has reiterated the existing constitutional right and openly criticised the failure to give effect to it by means of clear guidance to medical professionals about how the test can be operationalised. On two separate occasions the Irish people have been asked in constitutional referenda to restrict the X test by removing the risk of suicide from the life threatening conditions giving rise to the constitutional right. On both occasions the Irish electorate has refused. We do not know for sure whether people want wider access to abortion (the X test is, of course, very narrow) but we do know that people are not willing endorse a narrowing of the right.

In 2010 the European Court of Human Rights in A, B & C v Ireland accepted that Ireland has the sovereign right to decide on the availability of abortion per se, but that if there is a right to access abortion there must be a system for that right to be exercised. In the absence thereof there was a breach of the Convention.

On the same day, Kent’s Mairead Enright  Savita Halappanavar: Ireland, Abortion and the Politics of Death and Grief, a piece I have recommended before for the way that it powerfully presents (with lots of links) the connections between Savita’s case and other desperate situations faced by Irish women.

Here is the point. Irish women’s repro­duct­ive autonomy has been sub­ject to the con­trol of minor­ity pro­fes­sion­al­ised reli­gious (in the sense of con­nec­tion to reli­gious insti­tu­tions) interests for gen­er­a­tions. The Irish Times describes the exchange between Savita, her hus­band, and a hos­pital consultant:

The con­sult­ant said, ‘As long as there is a foetal heart­beat we can’t do anything’… The con­sult­ant said it was the law, that this is a Cath­olic coun­try. Savita said: ‘I am neither Irish nor Cath­olic’ but they said there was noth­ing they could do.

Irish people will hear echoes of Brendan Hodgers’ testi­mony on the death of his wife Sheila. They will think of Olivia Kear­ney, her hus­band and oth­ers affected by the pecu­li­arly Irish prac­tice of sym­physiotomy. The notion of the “right to choose” in this con­text shocks and jars.

Throughout the coroner’s inquest one of the most poignant voices has been that of Praveen Halappanavar, the widower of Savita.  Savita’s position, as a non-Catholic, non Irish person subject to these laws is one window into understanding the public significance of her death.  An article by Michelle Chen at RHRealityCheck claims that “Savita’s case …reveals how immigrant status can underscore the policy’s social parochialism.”  At the Inquest, the hospital midwife admitted making the famous “catholic country” remark and apologized, saying that she meant it in a kindly way.  I look forward to more discussion of this part of the issue.

Jennifer  Schweppe guest  posted  on ‘equal’ rights to life, focusing her discussion on Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution:

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

She described the issues as follows:

 first, what is ‘life’ for the purposes of Article 40.3.3; and second, is all foetal life equal, and to be treated as equal to that of the life of the woman? According to Article 40.3.3, unborn life is to be vindicated and protected ‘with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother’. Where foetal life cannot be born alive, and will not survive outside the womb, can it really be said that in these circumstances, the right to life of the unborn is ‘equal’ to the right to life of the woman? What is unique about the Halappanavar case in the context of Irish jurisprudence is the fact that there was no question but that this ‘life’ would not survive outside the womb. A further question arises then: is the Medical Council correct in equating life which has ‘little’ prospect of survival with life (such as that where the baby will be born alive but only survive a matter of hours or days after birth) with that which has ‘no’ prospect of survival? The question as to viability, the meaning of ‘life’ and the circumstances in which a fatal foetal abnormality can justify termination are all questions which need to be urgently addressed.

Savita’s death reignited the debate over the urgent need to legislate in response to cases like Savita’s , as well as the long delayed need to legislate for  X – and to provide critical guidance to medical professionals working in Ireland.  As Jennifer Schweppe writes:

There is more to legislating for Article 40.3.3 than simply providing for lawful terminations where the life of the mother is at risk. After X, C, D, D, A, B and C, we tragically have a face and a name attached to the failure of the legislature to respect and protect women’s rights in Ireland. McCarthy J stated in 1992 that the failure to legislate on the abortion issue was inexcusable. There are no longer any excuses: legislation must be introduced as a matter of urgency.

The Report of the Expert Group on the Judgement in A, B and C v Ireland was released in November 2012 as well.  You can read it here (it also contains a useful summary/timeline of the legal cases and constitutional referenda), and you can see some of the “implementation”  hearings (as in, what should legislation look like) which followed here along with another Enright  post.

Now, it seems, legislation is coming.  Shane Harrison on the BBC website wrote

Within the next fortnight, the coalition is expected to publish the heads of the bill – its general principles – that it hopes will become law by July.

Fine Gael is the largest partner in the Irish coalition government but several of the party’s politicians have expressed unease about the proposal to legislate for the credible threat of suicide as a grounds for a pregnancy termination.

They, and the Catholic Church, believe it could allow for “abortion on demand”, something the government strongly denies will happen.

The legislation is expected to be very restrictive by international standards.

The rumours about the proposal are thick on the ground (it does seem as though it is really just legislation for X, in these rumours, not something that would address the situation of A, B and C, or Savita). Many suggest that the legislation will require a number of specialists to testify about the suicide risk  (see for example here, here and here plus here for some dark humour), an approach which seems reminiscent (if even more restrictive) to the Canadian experience with therapeutic abortion committees prior to Morgentaler (1988) (see esp page 66 and 92 and on for discussion).  In short, these Committees couldn’t be constituted or were not appointed at many hospitals, thus making therapeutic abortions practically unavailable in those institutions.

I’m going to wrap up and post now, but i am looking forward to following this – all the more so now that I have more of the context to this struggle.

picture of savita, surrounded by candles, from vigil held in Ireland for Savita Halappanavar.

Good ideas: Workshop – Making Sense of Abortion and Assisted Reproduction

 

 

This invitation only workshop strikes me as such a good idea in both form and substance.  Imagine! Thinking and talking!  Making Sense of Abortion and Assisted Reproduction Workshop at Rutgers

I look forward to seeing what comes out of this series.  Such an important conversation to have – certainly one we need to keep having in Canada.

Here’s the schedule and below from the invitation as shown on the website.

Questions we imagine tackling include:

  • Whether a right to create a pregnancy through assisted reproduction is or should be as rooted in the constitution as a right to terminate a pregnancy?
  • What common ground and common cause can be found between those who advocate on behalf of people who use ART and women who want to terminate pregnancies?
  • What are the commonalities between different ways in which women might be stigmatized for using their reproductive capacity, such as working as surrogates, versus exercising a right not to use that capacity by terminating a pregnancy?
  • Is paternalism in the use of ART different from and/or more justified than paternalism in decision making about terminating pregnancies?