Consider today’s Irish Times article. ‘Suicidal woman allowed to get abortion’
In the UK, the Judge says that ‘a woman cannot be barred from abortion even “if mentally unwell”‘ As the Irish bill on mental capacity is yet to be introduced, it greatly surprises me that in the constant debate about suicide in Ireland presently, that not much attention is given to the issue of ‘mental capacity’ and the person’s right to have or not have a child.
Mark Hennessy, the London Editor of the Irish Times reports:-
A woman who is mentally ill and who states ‘she will commit suicide if forced to continue with a pregnancy, CANNOT BE BARRED FROM HAVING AN ABORTION…..’ a judge in London has ruled.
Let us take perspective urgently here in Ireland based on this…..’the woman, who is mentally ill, cannot be prevented from making the choice to have an abortion….’ Surely, this is a basic human right that people in Ireland need to grasp before this legislation is passed. The X case has existed for 20 years now and should be enacted in legislation. The Church ought to stand ashamed for their threats to excommunicate members of our Government who fail to adhere to their CREDO. Times thankfully have changed.
The Judgment (9 pm last night) was granted quickly taking account of the 24 week bar to abortion limits on pregnancy. Mr. Justice Holman said ‘It had to be established that the woman, who suffers from bipolar disorder, lacks the mental capacity before she could be stopped by the courts, even though he accepted that she is “mentally unwell”. In Ireland we need to note this Judgment on behalf of the many women with neuro-psychiatric implications who may become pregnant and need to make choices based on their life circumstances. Judge Holman went on to say that “Under the law, the woman is entitled to make a decision “WHICH MAY BE UNWISE” OR WITH WHICH OTHERS DISAGREE “INCLUDING MYSELF” if she is shown to have enough capacity to know her own mind……’
The psychiatrists in this case tried to state that the woman did not have the mental capacity because of her mental health problems eg bipolar, with paranoia and other problems. The psychiatrists put forward that in time the woman could regret the choice of abortion and would prefer to have sent the child forward for adoption but the Judge listened to the woman and acknowledged her capacity and right to choose in the circumstances.
The woman spoke and she said “I want it (the abortion as many with mental health problems can and will say) more than ever. In the situation that I am in, (8 years with bipolar and complications informs you of your circumstances), the idea of me having a baby is crazy’, she said, before insisting she wanted to part from her husband and her mother and “start a new life”. The woman acknowledged that choosing an abortion was not taken lightly but also said that she had no regrets relating to an abortion she had chosen to have 18 months earlier. Her regrets were that she became pregnant. The other point to note is that the father was not her husband.
This case is worth reading.
Mental health and anxiety are stigmatised and it is an elite group of people who make judgments in Ireland to intervene and bully vulnerable people. We need to first deal with the stigma and mental health before we start threatening to imprison our medical profession to 14 years in prison for making a decision to facilitate an abortion in Ireland in line with the X Case
Hippocrates says: ‘Do No Harm’. Remember this is a paradox. For a woman making a decision to have an abortion because she lives with neuro-psychiatric complications…the doctor who understands her situation making a decision to carry out an abortion is alleviating harm to the woman who basically feels she would not be able to cope. Mental health is a life long sentence and choice is essential – it does not take those self-made God-like psychiatrists and the likes of the Iona Institute or Opus Dei for that matter to make the decision that the woman has no right to choose.