Separate Church and State Now! Public Meeting with Sanal Edamaruku and Atheist Ireland

Atheist Ireland are hosting a public meeting on furthering the idea of separation of church and state in Ireland. The meeting is to be held in the Malone Lodge on Tuesday 27th November with author and president of the Indian Rationalist Association and Rationalist International, Sanal Edamaruku, who is facing blasphemy charges in India, instigated by the Catholic Church, for exposing a crying Catholic statue as being caused by faulty plumbing and capillary action.

Other events are being held in Cork, Galway and Belfast (Dublin event took place on Saturday 24th), to promote separation of church and state in Ireland and internationally.

Michael Nugent and Jane Donnelly of Atheist Ireland will speak on the need for a secular constitution, laws, government, courts, education system and healthcare system, both in Ireland and internationally.

David Meade — Just Hanging Around?

David Meade pulled off an incredible stunt in Victoria Square Shopping Centre this morning. He wowed passers-by as he levitated 20metres/65ft off the ground. Or did he?

David says it’s an old religious hoax which originated 200 years ago in Egypt, created by fake faith healers in order to help them flog their wares. He wants people thinking and asking questions.
So what do you think is going on?

david meade levitation victoria square

david meade levitation victoria square

Belfast Vigil in Memory of Savita Halappanavar

Yesterday evening a candlelit vigil took place in Belfast where many people gathered to quietly demonstrate and remember the death of Savita Halappanavar, a 31 year-old Indian woman who died in University Hospital Galway on 21st October this year.

Abortion is already a very hot topic in both North and South of Ireland, however, this recent case brings new light on the fact that the Irish government has refused to legislate on abortion for twenty years, since the X Case in 1992.

The 1992 Supreme Court judgement gives women a constitutional right to access abortion when their lives are in danger, including from the risk of suicide. However, the European Court of Human Rights has said there is a notable gap in the theory and practical implementation of the right to a lawful abortion in Ireland because of the lack of corresponding legislation.

Over the last two days vigils have been held in Galway, Dublin, Cork, Limerick and London. This is not an issue which is going to go away and something must be done to ensure that such an atrocity doesn’t occur again. That the innocent life of a women is not at risk because the government is under the thumb of the dogma of Catholic church.

Savita and her husband repeatedly informed doctors of the pain she was in and requested that an abortion be carried out due to the complications of the pregnancy. Doctors had found that she was miscarrying and that the fetus would not survive, however they were told that due to a “fetal heartbeat” they would not carry out an abortion as “this is a Catholic country”.

Because her cervix remained fully open for this time, Savita was in prolonged danger of infection, comparable to having an untreated open head wound. Savita developed septicaemia, and she died on Sunday 28 October, a week after entering hospital.

By then doctors had removed the foetus, but only after its heartbeat had stopped. If they had removed the foetus when it was clear that it could not survive, Savita’s cervix would have closed earlier and she would have been less likely to develop the infection.

There are few words but anger at this response. No good moral judgement was carried out in the decision to allow this woman to die. This is a human issue, and more pressure must be put on the government to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. In doing so, full detailed legislation must be laid out for cases of abortion to ensure that all medical professionals are educated on when medically induced abortions can be carried out — medicine must not be dictated by mythological doctrine.

Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland has provided full details this case and others surrounding.

(Photographs and video by Phil O’Kane)

Woman Dies from Miscarriage in Galway After Denied a Life-Saving Abortion

It is being reported that that a woman died on Sunday 28th of October in University College Hospitals, Galway, after it was found she was having a miscarriage, yet doctors refused to perform an abortion.

The woman, Savita Halappanavar, a 31 year old dentist who was married for four years and hoping to start a family, was 17 weeks pregnant. Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, said that she had been in severe pain and on discovering she was miscarrying had requested a medical abortion. She was told by doctors, “this is a Catholic country”.

Galway Pro-Choice released a statement:

Savita was first admitted to the hospital on October 21st complaining of severe back pain. Her doctor initially told her that she would be fine, but she refused to go home. It became clear that her waters had broken, and she was having a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion). She was told that the foetus had no chance of survival, and it would all be over within a few hours.

However, her condition did not take its expected course, and the foetus remained inside her body. Although it was evident that it could not survive, a foetal heartbeat was detected. For this reason her repeated requests to remove the foetus were denied. By Tuesday it was clear that her condition was deteriorating. She had developed a fever, and collapsed when attempting to walk. The cervix had now been fully open for nearly 72 hours, creating a danger of infection comparable to an untreated open head wound. She developed septicaemia.

Despite this, the foetus was not removed until Wednesday afternoon, after the foetal heartbeat had stopped. Immediately after the procedure she was taken to the high dependency unit. Her condition never improved. She died at 1.09am on Sunday the 28th of October.

Had the foetus been removed when it became clear that it could not survive, her cervix would have been closed and her chance of infection dramatically reduced. Leaving a woman’s cervix open constitutes a clear risk to her life. What is unclear is how doctors are expected to act in this situation.

There are a number of takeaways from this horrible incident, and much needs to be done to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Now is the time for detailed abortion legislation to be introduced in Ireland. It is unacceptable that a doctor can refuse to offer life-saving treatment on the basis of religion.

Choice Ireland spokesperson, Stephanie Lord said:

“Today, some twenty years after the X case we find ourselves asking the same question again – if a woman is pregnant, her life in jeopardy, can she even establish whether or not she has a right to a termination here in Ireland? There is still a disturbing lack of clarity around this issue, decades after the tragic events surrounding the X case in 1992.”

How honest, now, is the term “Pro-Life” to describe those fighting to prevent a woman’s right to make a choice on her body. This case has simply gone against what many people like to state, that women do not die in this day and age from pregnancies. They do.

In a piece in the Irish Times, John Fleming, Bishop of Killala, County Mayo, states:

‘Choose Life!’ – this is the campaign call of the Catholic bishops of Ireland to raise public awareness that every human life is beautiful and that every human life is precious.

The Constitution recognises “the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect” that right. The clear intention, therefore, is to protect and cherish equally the lives of both the mother and her unborn child.

In fact, Ireland, without abortion, is recognised as one of the safest countries in the world to be a pregnant mother. This is something about which we should be proud and is a tribute to the excellent care provided by hospital staff who treat both mother and unborn child with equal dignity and respect as people in their own right. Clearly, if the life of the mother is threatened, by illness or some other medical condition, the care provided by medical professionals will make sure that she receives all the medical care needed.

As stated by the European Centre for Law and Justice:

Even considering the broad European consensus on abortion, the Court considers that it doesn’t limit the sovereign right of Ireland to prohibit abortion, because of “the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake” (§ 233)

Apart from those positive holdings affirming that there is no right to abortion, the ECLJ must strongly reject the erroneous assumption of the ECHR of the existing of a “lawful abortion in Ireland in accordance with Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution” Article 40.3.3, adopted by a referendum held in 1983, reads as follows and doesn’t recognize any right to abortion : “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.” The Court’s interpretation of article 40.3.3, may lead to a forced recognition of a right to abortion.

Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of Savita Halappanavar.

[Music] Xemplify — A Revolution

This is no simple reform,
It really is a revolution.

Sex and race,
Because they are easy, visable, differences,
Have been the primary ways of
Organising human beings
Into superior and inferior groups.
And into the cheap labour,
On which the system still depends.

We are talking about a society,
In which there will be no roles
Other than those chosen or those earned.
We’re really talking about Humanism.

Geek Manifulster

The GeekManifulster Pledge reached its target! But there is still a lot of work to be done.

geek manifestoThe idea behind the pledge is to have a copy of the Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters on the desk of each MLA in Stormont. 56 people have now pledged that they will send a copy to an MLA of their choice, though there are 108 MLAs in Stormont.

The book is written by Mark Henderson, Head of Communications at the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health by supporting the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities, while the book sets an agenda for how science should be much more central than it is to government and the wider national conversation. Science and critical thinking should be at the forefront of government and political decisions — the current state of affairs is from from this, and no less so in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK.

And so with this in mind, we have the “GeekManifulster”, as coined by Shane McKee.

In Northern Ireland we have our Legislative Assembly with 108 elected Members (MLAs), largely elected along the lines of the traditional parties who have tussled and wrangled over Our Wee Country for the past 45 years (a time that has not always been happy). Political rhetoric in Northern Ireland is often based along religious faultlines, and people seem reluctant to toss that aside in favour of a more inclusive and evidence-based future.

The #GeekManifulster Pledge sets out to help change the culture in Stormont. We want to give each MLA a copy of the book, and let them know that science-minded people (whether they are actually scientists or not) form a major part of their constituency. If they want our votes, they need to show they are ready to take on the challenge.

Northern Ireland’s economy was once built on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). We built ships, from the Titanic to the Canberra. We built planes, generators, turbines. We developed textiles that helped win World War II. Our scientists split atoms, unlocked the mysteries of thermodynamics, discovered quasars. We have nothing to be ashamed of, and science can help pull us out of this recession.

What to do now?

  1. If you haven’t read The Geek Manifesto, do!
  2. Join the Geek Manifulster Facebook Group.
  3. Share with friends on Facebook, Twitter, email etc.
  4. Then pick which MLA you would like to send a copy to… (perhaps try to pick someone who you may not have voted for in the past, or whose views you might normally disagree with – go on – get out of your comfort zone!).
  5. You’ll need to add your name beside an MLA on the spreadsheet.
  6. Start thinking of ways you might be able to enhance the profile of science in the public sphere

Science is vital, and science and reason have never been stronger within Northern Ireland.
Let’s make this happen.