Ireland’s acting like the setting of a dystopian novel.

This is the sort of thing that happens when a suicidal woman requests an abortion in Ireland.

The poor girl must have been devastated. She was certainly traumatised enough to go on hunger and fluid strike. The HSE went to the High Court to get a care order to prevent her from starving herself. Eventually, she surrendered and allowed the baby to be delivered by Caesarean section sometime between 23 and 25 weeks.

She did what the law asked of her: presented herself to a panel of three psychiatrists and told them about her suicidal ideation. The psychiatrists agreed that she was a suicide risk and should be allowed a termination, but the obstetrician stepped in and insisted that the pregnancy was far along enough for a live delivery and therefore MUST have a live delivery.

She tried starving herself. No, she wasn’t allowed to starve; the state took her in and forced her not to starve or dehydrate. As long as she was pregnant, she did not have permission to die.

This is only a couple of steps removed from the setting of a dystopian novel I was working on (now shelved indefinitely) around the same time as beginning my urban fantasy work; in present-day Ireland, they only keep her hooked up for a short time, and they don’t appear to be forcing psychotropic drugs on her, but still, this is a very Handmaid’s Tale way to treat a young woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant.

Something tells me they don’t roll out the protective orders for suicidal people who aren’t pregnant. Now that the baby is out, there’s nothing stopping her from killing herself.

Delivery at 25 weeks is nearly the bare minimum required for a fetus to survive delivery. There’s a reason why nearly all parents with wanted pregnancies keep them going closer to 40 weeks if at all possible. Staying alive after such a premature birth is doable, but it’s not healthy.

The physical effects (her mental health is clearly irrelevant as far as the state is concerned) of Cesarean section are far from trivial, especially compared to abortion. She’s been forced into a major operation, with permanent effects, in order to deliver an extremely premature infant whom she did not want to conceive in the first place and will not raise.

I do understand where the Irish government is coming from, in handling such cases this way. If one pregnant woman can say she’s suicidal and get a safe abortion in an Irish hospital, it won’t be long until ALL women with unwanted pregnancies can get terminations just by claiming to have suicidal thoughts. Before you know it, the Republic of Ireland will be known as a country where any woman can get a pregnancy terminated legally by a qualified doctor. Everyone knows Ireland is supposed to outsource their abortion care to Great Britain. Anything less is a travesty. The woman in this case was unable to travel to the UK for a legal abortion. I’m seeing from other sources that she is not an Irish national, so it’s probably an immigration concern that kept her from making the trip. It’s the most disadvantaged and desperate women who can be forced to keep their pregnancies to the point of just barely viability, and who can be taken into state custody to keep from starving themselves. Those with more control over their life circumstances can exercise their right to reproductive freedom in other countries.

But that said, how far does it have to go? How many more women have to go on hunger strike, or successfully kill themselves, before the Irish government decides that allowing legal abortion to happen within its own borders would not be the worst thing ever? How many women will they incarcerate and force into major abdominal surgery for the sake of barely viable micro-preemies before they start re-examining their priorities?