Weekly Roundup: Fr Doran resigns, Halappanavar sues, and we march for choice

Welcome to another Weekly Roundup, where each week our MediaWatch team highlights how abortion is discussed in the media at home and abroad!

Over the past two weeks, we heard that the Mater hospital has agreed to comply with new abortion legislation, while Praveen Halappanavar is suing the HSE over the death of his wife, Savita, and an Irish survey shows what farmers really think about abortion. We also took to the streets to voice our demands, joining a chorus of people calling for abortion rights worldwide.

A Mater of law

Last month, Fr Kevin Doran from the Mater Hospital’s board of directors said that the hospital would be unable to carry out abortions as provided for in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, as this contradicts the hospital’s Catholic ethos. Last week, the Mater released a statement saying that they will, in fact, be complying with the legislation, as their priority is to “be at the frontier of compassion, concern and clinical care for all our patients”. This resulted in the resignation of Fr Doran.

This makes the Mater the second Catholic-run hospital to explicitly state that it will carry out life-saving abortions allowed by the Act, after St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin recently confirmed that it will “follow the law of the land”.

Seeking justice

Praveen Halappanavar, widower of Savita Halappanavar, is suing the HSE for negligence leading to the Executive breaching his late wife’s constitutional right to life. According to the Irish Independent, Savita’s doctor Katherine Astbury is also being sued. Dr Astbury, it emerged at the inquest into Savita’s death, had relied on her registrar to read her patient’s medical notes for her and had been unaware of signs of Savita’s worsening condition.

Endangered species

One of the four remaining doctors performing late-term abortions in the US, Dr Shelley Sella, was profiled in The Irish Times last week. Dr Sella is part of the documentary film After Tiller, about the circumstances within which she has worked since the assassination of Dr George Tiller in 2009. Dr Sella speaks in this article about supporting women in what is almost always a difficult and often tragic time of their lives, and doing so while she and her colleagues are at constant risk of harassment and violence.

Ask a farmer

A survey undertaken by the Irish Examiner showed that “63% of farmers either agree or strongly agree” with the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, with only 1 in 5 opposed to it. Despite the majority of farmers surveyed being weekly mass-goers, most are willing to contradict Church teachings when their consciences demand it – a good sign for the country!

March for Choice

Last Saturday, the Abortion Rights Campaign, pro-choice groups from across Ireland and Northern Ireland, and many others around the world took part in public demonstrations for a Global Day of Action for free, safe and legal abortion.

In Derry, Alliance for Choice Derry took advantage of the spotlight their city is currently under as the UK’s inaugural City of Culture with a mural declaring “You are not entering free Derry” and demands that the healthcare available to women in Scotland, Wales and England be extended to those in Northern Ireland.

In Dublin, the March for Choice took the streets through masses of Cork and Clare supporters demanding free, safe and legal abortion in Ireland. Speakers at the event included MC Tara Flynn; President of Catholics for Choice, Jon O’Brien; TD Clare Daly; Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Orla O’Connor; abortion provider, Dr. Shelley Sella; Terminations for Medical Reasons; and a number of activists and women who have traveled for abortions.

You can check out photos from the march as well as footage on YouTube. You can also check out some of our ARC campaigners in this great video from the Irish Family Planning Association and the International Planned Parenthood Federation to facilitate open dialogue on abortion and the remove the stigma around women who have had them.

Got some old clothes taking up space in your wardrobe? Why not bring them along to the Abortion Rights Campaign Clothes Swap Siopa on 27 October? There’ll also be cake!