X case law - An Alibi of Doctors


We know that the collective noun for a group of geese is a gaggle and for cows a herd, but what is the appropriate term for a plurality of doctors? According to the Irish state and political class, it would seem the correct name is an Alibi of Doctors.

 After over 20 years of foot-dragging and spineless cowardice in the wake of the X case judgement of 1992, X-case legislation has finally only been forced out of the craven Irish political class by the international scandal around the medical murder of Savita Halappanavar. However, faced with a crisis, the Daíl sleveens have found yet another way to wriggle out of confronting the church over a woman's right to abortion in even the most extreme life-threatening circumstances - make the doctors the fall guys/girls.

At first sight, passing on the decision over whether a woman's life is endangered by the continuation of a pregnancy to the medical profession - aside from the obviously malevolent absurdity of requiring three doctors, rather than one -  could appear to some as rational and proper and in line with the practice in more enlightened European countries. But that is to ignore the Irish reality of an institutionalised church power that controls the medical profession in a way unlike in any other European country.
If you are a doctor in this country whether or not you get a job in a hospital (or attached to one, through consultancy) is subject to Section 37.1 of the Employment Equality Act which allows hospitals (and schools) to discriminate "in order to maintain the religious ethos of the institution.  If you don't give the "correct" answer to their questions on your attitude to abortion, you don't get the job, plain and simple. "Many of the State’s largest publicly funded hospitals are owned or controlled by Catholic religious orders such as the Sisters of Mercy or the Religious Sisters of Charity." Irish Times
That means if you're the kind of person who would give a sympathetic ear to a woman's need for an abortion, you are pretty much stuck with general practice. The stipulations in the legislation as to which doctors do the screening, pretty much rule out GPs alone being able to back an abortion, and of course the procedure itself will have to be carried out in a hospital. In other words, you will have to get the backing of doctors whose careers at at the mercy of the hospital boards, in one way or another. It's still a case "rosaries on ovaries" but in a hypocritical remote-control "medicalised" form. 
So long as the church maintains its stranglehold on the Medical Council and on hospitals and the hiring and firing that controls the career path of Irish medical professionals, the very idea of an independent medical opinion on access to abortion is a lie and a hypocrisy. The white coats of the doctors will remain merely window dressing to the black cassocks of a misogynist male church power. 
By being drawn onto the terrain of arguing whether one, two or three doctors is appropriate to denying a women their right to a free safe and legal abortion, pro-choice campaigners have been played for fools. No legislation that takes the power of decision over abortion away from the pregnant woman and gives it to doctors, without challenging the institutionalised control of the church over doctors, can be anything other than a sham and an alibi for our shameless politicians to do nothing. And lest we forget, while our ire may be inflamed by disgusting displays by Fine Gael politicians like Peter Matthews saying "we all need to die sometime" in response to a question about how he felt about a woman's right to life, we should no less focus on anger on the hypocrisy of the more two-faced Labour politicians who will try and defend this legislation as "a step forward" when they know full well it is nothing of the sort.
Not only is this legislation not "a step forward", given that even women in extremis will be effectively denied any access to abortion through this ridiculous charade of doctors as glove-puppets for the church, but the penalties for accessing abortion through the abortion pill, for example, will be doubled from the current recommended penalty of 7 years prison, to 14 years. 
This legislation is a sham defending reactionary church power over women’s bodies and lives in this country and a giant step backwards. It should be opposed by not only all those who believe in a woman's right to free, safe and legal abortion on demand, but also by all those who simply believe in a woman's right to life and that Savita Halappanavar should not have been condemned to a slow agonising and needless death with the heartless words "This is a Catholic country" ringing in her ears.
“Get your rosaries off our ovaries!” must mean “Get the bishops off the boards!”.