Opinion Editorial

Tuesday 20 February 2018

No more Irish solutions please

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act was introduced following the death of Savita Halappanavar
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act was introduced following the death of Savita Halappanavar

Irish politicians are certainly slow learners when it comes to the fundamental truth that political expediency always begets moral and political chaos. Few will now remember Charles Haughey's proud declaration in 1979, that his Family Planning Bill, where contraceptives could only be secured with a medical prescription, was an 'Irish solution to an Irish problem'. Three decades after that shambles, it is truly dispiriting to realise the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, devised by similarly fearful politicians looking for a return of the quiet life after the death of Savita Halappanavar, was informed by the same wretched ethos.

Often, when lawyers are attempting to maintain some morally indefensible state of affairs they will warn that hard cases make bad law. But the opposite side of that axiom is that bad law creates hard cases. It should in that regard be noted of the grotesque Y case where an immigrant, pregnant by rape, had a child she did not want cut out of her body, that all the personnel involved, implemented the law to its very last letter.

This Kafkaesque scenario is alas just another example of the wicked fruits that inevitably follow the all too common 'whatever you say, say nothing' school of Irish politics. The ongoing popularity of this stance on the Y case in Fine Gael and Fianna Fail will surprise few. The response though of Labour, where courage was swiftly outsourced to the next administration, will have embarrassed anyone who thought that party stood for better than the politics of Irish solutions. Some, God help us; have claimed such dilatory caution is 'clever politics'. It is nothing of the sort unless we believe moral negligence is politically clever.

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