News David Quinn

Sunday 21 September 2014

The Government's claim to be pro-child and pro-mother is hypocritical humbug

Published 22/08/2014 | 02:30

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Pro Choice supporters hold a protest on O'Connell Street calling on the Government to repeal the 8th amendment

A great deal of the coverage of the 'Migrant X' story since it broke last weekend has centred on the plight of the young woman at the centre of the case. Her plight has rightly received much attention.

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Far less attention, however, has been paid to the plight of the baby. Thanks to our new abortion law that baby was delivered three months early. The baby is likely to survive, but because of its extreme prematurity is about 80pc likely to suffer a handicap.

This is what our legislators have wrought. It is what a Government that claims to be pro-child has wrought. A way could have been found to care for both the mother and her baby but instead the loudest complaint we are hearing is that the baby wasn't aborted. The complaint should be that this baby may suffer health difficulties a direct result of the policy of this 'pro-child' Government.

This Government also claims to be pro-mother. Let's examine that claim briefly as well. Would a pro-mother Government have left maternity units as badly stretched as they are?

One reason Savita Halappanavar died is because the unit she was in was overwhelmed.

Another reason is because of the long and inordinate delay in introducing proper protocols for identifying when a pregnant woman is developing sepsis, which is what ultimately killed Savita.

When Tania McCabe died in 2007 of septic poisoning a few days after giving birth, a subsequent report recommended that protocols for properly identifying sepsis be introduced.

By the time Savita died, this still hadn't happened. Proper guidelines have only been introduced in the last few weeks, that is, almost two years after Savita died and seven years after Tania died.

To put this another way, had those guidelines been introduced when they should have been, Savita might still be alive today.

But the Government decided that the euphemistically named 'Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act' was more urgent and rammed it through the Oireachtas.

A truly pro-mother Government would have ensured that the sepsis guidelines were issued even more speedily than the abortion law was passed. In fact, it should not have taken the death of Savita Halappanavar to make this happen.

So what we see at work here, especially on the part of Fine Gael, isn't so much a genuine concern for pregnant women, but a concern with keeping the media and the Labour Party off its back.

The Government's loud proclamations that it is 'pro-child' are to be taken no more seriously. Labour ultimately wants our abortion law to be as permissive as Britain's where almost 200,000 abortions take place each year.

No one who supports a law as permissive as that can even begin to claim that they are pro-child or pro-life.

Fine Gael will give Labour its way on this when it judges it to be politically in its interests. That makes Fine Gael even worse than Labour in my book. At least Labour is guided, or rather misguided, by a principle of some sort.

The Government points to the Children's Referendum passed in 2012 as evidence in its favour. That is a fig leaf which, had it granted any further powers to the State than it did, would have actually been damaging to the interests of children.

A pro-child Government would not preside over our appalling asylum system either, one in which 500 minors have gone missing in recent years.

The State has failed this young woman no matter what your position is on abortion. Once she came to the attention of the HSE she should have received vastly better care than she did.

If she had 'merely' been a rape victim, and not pregnant as well, she would still have been extremely distressed and in need of care.

She was clearly not receiving that care, and it seems to be mainly the fact that she was pregnant which caused the system to finally do something for her, even though the result is probably of dubious benefit to her and has possibly caused her child health issues.

Indeed, if she had not been pregnant and therefore could become embroiled in our abortion politics, how much attention would the media have given her?

The case of Tania McCabe received some coverage, but the Savita Halappanavar case received vastly more coverage because that, too, became embroiled in our abortion politics.

This young woman, of course, is far from the only person failed by the HSE. Bear in mind the 200 or so children who have died either in the care of the HSE or in contact with the HSE in the last 10 years. Some of these happened under the watch of this 'pro-child' Government.

This same Government is planning to pass a new law called the Children and Family Relationships Bill, which essentially commodifies children by authorising their production through the use of surrogate mothers and third-party eggs and sperm. It is literally making children to order.

So what the latest case highlights above all is that the claim of the Government to be pro-child and pro-mother is simply hypocritical humbug and to be dismissed out of hand.

David Quinn

Irish Independent

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