Tuesday 21 November 2017

Lack of consent in our ill State

If consent defines the health of a democracy, then this State is ill. In recent years, consent, or the lack of it, has centred on economic issues such as bank guarantees. However, for two weeks now, the country has been united in anger over a very different form of consent. One of the reasons the death of Savita Halappanavar has been so iconic is that so much of her fate rests on the issue of consent.

Initially, this came in the form of the denial of the pleas of a terrified woman for an abortion before insult was added to injury, by the decision of the Government and the HSE to go ahead with an inquiry, again without the consent of the widowed husband.

The anger sparked by these acts is likely to intensify even further in the wake of the Expert Group Report, which reveals that the rights of vulnerable, ill, pregnant Irish women, their husbands, partners and children are defined by a 19th-Century piece of statute law.

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