5/01/2007

Miss D, an exception to the rule

I see that Ireland is yet again faced with an abortion case in the courts due to that fact that our law is not clear enough despite the ruling in the X case.

Now most people will know my view on abortion, I oppose it.



For me it's a very clear cut issue usually, life or death. This case adds a new dimension to that debate and presents problems even for the most vociferous pro-life believer like myself.

Miss D is 17 yrs old and in the care of the HSE. She is four months pregnant and carrying a child which has anencephaly, which means that if the child is born alive it will die within a few hours of birth. She intended to go to England in order to have an abortion however the HSE issued an order banning him from heading across the water and instructed the Gardaí to arrest her if she tried to leave the country.

In court on Tuesday it was suggested that the State may not have such a power to prevent her travelling. It was revealed in court that while she was distressed she was not suicidal, a ground she could rely on to leave the country and have an abortion under the parameters of the X case.

The case is to be heard in full on Thursday.

The plight of this poor girl presents a challenge to my strict views on abortion and they do so because of the defect that the child she is carrying has.

Anencephaly is a cephalic disorder that results from a neural tube defect that occurs when the cephalic end of the neural tube fails to close, usually between the 23rd and 26th day of pregnancy, resulting in the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp.

The infant is usually blind, deaf, unconscious, and unable to feel pain. Although some individuals with anencephaly may be born with a rudimentary brain stem, the lack of a functioning cerebrum permanently rules out the possibility of ever gaining consciousness.

A picture can be found here (this is not a pretty sight)

That is the crucial detail for me, the child will never gain consciousness and so will never even know life.

For that reason I think this girl should be allowed to have an abortion.

The issue that also needs to be looked at in all of this is the role and power of the HSE. The girl is subject to an interim care order with the HSE yet there is a suggestion by the solicitors for the state that they are not entitled to stop her going to England.

Donal O’Donnell SC, appearing for the Attorney General, said the HSE has no legal power to direct the Gardaí to restrain a person who is subject of an interim care order; that the Gardaí do not have the legal power to restrain someone simply because they are subject of an interim order and that the HSE order does not restrain a person from travelling anywhere.

In my opinion this needs to be revised and the HSE should have that power.

What would happen if this was a different girl with a healthy baby?

The HSE should have the power, as the legal guardian, to stop her going across the water to kill her child.

What this case does illustrate is that everything isn't black and white, sometimes there are various shades of grey.

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