Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Replacing the 8th won't address autonomy issues.

Article in Today's Irish Times looking at Constitutional law and challenging the view that the 8th Amendment must be replaced if repealed.

This is an incredibly important issue and one that has been continuously missed in the conversation from many politicians and many in the Irish media with regards to Repeal the 8th.

AIMSI members voted unanimously for Repeal the 8th without replacement due to the legal ramifications personhood laws have on bodily autonomy on all health care options and full range of maternity services once a person becomes pregnant.  All care options in continuum of pregnancy are within the scope of "maternity services" and those utilising services in Ireland deserve a full range of evidence based care options and full duty of care. Including access to abortion, pregnancy screening, evidence based antenatal/labour/birth/postnatal, options on place of birth/lead care provider, maternal mental health services,  bereavement, hospice, and full recognition and guidance of principals of informed decision making, to consent or decline, like our EU / UK counterparts.

Repealing the 8th Amendment and replacing it with similar legislation, giving equal  rights to the foetus in some or all instances, results in no change for pregnant women/people in happily continued pregnancy.  With shared rights a pregnant women/person is automatically reduced in capacity - in the ability to make an informed decision, (consent to/or decline ) in care options and interventions during continued pregnancy, labour, and childbirth.

The HSE directly cites the 8th as a barrier to consent in continued pregnancy and childbirth. Further, The Capacity Act legislation outlines the importance of Advanced Health Care Directives, as being legally binding to ensure patient wishes, but outlines that these directives can be overruled in the case of pregnancy.

Pregnant women/people should be the lead decision maker on their care - where, how, with whom they give birth. In no other realm of health is a person with full capacity's right to bodily autonomy diminished.

Bodily autonomy is the cornerstone of medical ethics. Removal of this right in the instance of pregnancy is discrimination. Removal of choice is never best practice.

This conversation must be opened to include continued pregnancy and the dangerous ramifications the 8th has in maternity care.

From Article:
"The people should not be asked to constitutionally enshrine a particular set of restrictions on abortions, but only to remove a constitutional impediment to legislative reform."

Irish Times:

"There is no reason why we can’t simply repeal the Eighth Amendment" 

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