Sarah McCarthy writes on the recent proposal that five doctos would be required to diagnose if someone is suicidal to be allowed access to an abortion. 

Tensions in the Government coalition have delayed Health Minister’s Reilly submission to Cabinet on proposed changes to abortion legislation. The strain comes as some of the ultra-conservative anti-choice deputies in Fine Gael are insisting that five doctors would be necessary to determine whether the life of the pregnant person is at risk due to suicide. Yes that’s right, FIVE.

Labour Deputies are opposing this measure as they believe that it is “unworkable”. Well, excuse my language, but no shit. The idea is absolutely farcical, but the implications of it are quite sinister.

First of all, this is a blatant attempt to delay abortions until they are no longer allowed, and to prevent them all together. I find it unlikely that five doctors have ever agreed on much of anything, not least something as impossible to determine unequivocally as whether a person is or isn’t suicidal. What happens when, inevitably, at least one doctor disagrees? Do they get a veto? Do they spend days, weeks arguing about it? While the suicidal person is forced to prove that yes, they are going to kill themselves. Doesn’t that sound a bit dangerous to you? Asking a suicidal person to prove that they will in fact end their life, making them wait for an unendurable period of time not knowing whether their request will be granted. Can you imagine the panic, the fear that you might be forced to go through with the pregnancy? It’s cruel and inhumane, and it’s impossible that this process wouldn’t push some people over the edge.

The proposal also displays quite clearly the misogyny of so many of our TD’s. It implies that we would need five doctors to see through the wily women, trying to deceive the fully-qualified professionals just so they can get that abortion they’re “demanding”. Fine Gael TDs are insisting on the strictest interpretation of the “suicide clause” possible for fear of this. God forbid we start using our womanly charms to trick doctors into giving us control over our own bodies. Those crafty women, they cannot be trusted! It’s an age-old depiction of women, one that has been used to justify the rape and abuse of the subordinated gender for centuries.

Fine Gael TDs are continuing to harp on about being allowed a free vote on this legislation, while Enda Kenny still seems sure that he won’t be “rushed”. It’s incredible really; the bank guarantee that condemned this country to decades of economic ruin was drafted over-night behind closed doors. Yet it is going to take over 21 years before we get legislation to say that yes, women shouldn’t be forced to risk their lives for a foetus? As I said, the Irish Government really must hate women.

-Sarah McCarthy

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