Conservatism and Abortion in Ireland

When I set foot in Ireland, I was somewhat aware of it being ‘more conservative’. But coming from basically Catholic-free northern Germany, what does that mean anyway?
‘Not that much, obviously’, I thought, when I couldn’t see too much everyday-Catholicism in the way most girls in Dublin dress up when they’re going out. In other words: Religion seems to be really heart-warming and therefore allowing for even shorter skirts. Even another way to put it: Since prostitution is illegal in Ireland (Thanks, conservatism), girls don’t know that they dress like German prostitutes.

But then I learned that there are only a few mixed schools here. And that drinking in public is illegal also. Points that may have an interesting (read: not positive) effect on society (I’m inclined to think that separate schools are the best way to disturb children’s upbringing and general development), but they don’t come close to what I learned when we looked at the ‘X Case’ in class: Here in Ireland, there’s a disturbing position on abortion, to say the least.

I will quit the jokes here and make the connection to current events for anybody wondering: This topic began to gain tragic attention a few days ago when a woman was refused an abortion, and died. An article from Human Rights Watch expands further on the details:

Savita Halappanavar went to University Hospital Galway with pregnancy-related pains on October 21, and when she began to miscarry sought an abortion but was refused. She suffered a miscarriage and several days later died of blood poisoning.

This is tragic, and also inhumane. The medically necessary abortion was refused with the explanation that ‘this is a Catholic country’, the Irish Times reports. There are no words for this. This seems like a case from the middle ages, but it’s Ireland in 2012.

The problem doesn’t lie ‘just’ with the medical staff, it is the legislation. Under the Irish Constitution, it is legal to get an abortion, but only in cases in which the life of the mother is at risk. In relation to the X case the Supreme Court established a test to determine whether an abortion complies with the Irish Constitution or not. But a process allowing women to exercise that right has not been implemented. The X case was 1992.
In the ABC v Ireland case from 2010, that lack actually was acknowledged as a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.

This documentary was made this year, but before Savita Halappanavar’s case happened. Tragically, it names and addresses exactly the failure in legislation that led to her death. The Expert Panel’s report it mentioned was handed to Health Minister James O’Reilly by November 13, as the HRW article says.
For Ireland and Irish women, a liberal society and so on I sincerely hope that the current protests going on put enough pressure on the Parliament to end what has to be the longest legislative failure in history.
And I hope the so-called ‘pro life’ activists aren’t successful in their ongoing campaign to keep up a medieval worldview - and somehow the majority of Irish people on their side.

(Thanks to Clare for bringing the documentary to my attention.)