This Week I’ve Been Reading #12

It’s time for another round up of blog posts, articles and stuff from the internet that caught my attention this week.

12 Magazine Articles That Changed My Life

One man’s year of digital detox – Reboot Or Die Trying

In book related news – Man Booker Prize 2014 shortlist announced in full, Read This Before This: 10 Great Books Based on Other Great Books and Why today’s most exciting crime novelists are women

I think we’ve all uttered the words “don’t read the comments” at some point – Comment sections are poison: handle with care or remove them

An excerpt from Sali Hughes’ upcoming book Pretty Honest: The Straight-Talking Beauty CompanionSali Hughes: the essential guide to staying ahead of the beauty game

On Ghostbusters and its relationship with New York – Nobody Steps On A Church In My Town

I’ve a mixed relationship with women’s magazines and Cosmopolitan in particular, but I do see its recent interest in politics as somewhat of a return to the Cosmopolitan of Helen Gurley Brown’s time. Which is no bad thing. Here is Jill Filipovic’s response to conservative commentators who don’t think it’s a good idea – Is Politics Beyond Cosmopolitan’s Purview?

I’ll always have a soft spot for Friends, mainly because of Matthew Perry, but the endless reruns have left me reaching for remote as soon as I see so much as an ad for it. Maybe I’ll revisist it some day, who knows? – The hunting of the snark: Friends, 20 years on

On Tupac, his friendship with Mike Tyson, gang violence and Chris Carroll; the first cop on the scene the night Shakur was shot – The Last Words of Tupac Shakur


This Week I’ve Been Reading #11

It’s time for a round up of blog posts, articles and stuff from the internet that caught my attention this week.

What People With Depression Want You To Know -

Famous Writers on the Creative Benefits of Keeping a Diary

Francois Nars is celebrating 20 years of his make-up line – and he’s still ahead of the game

I was eleven when Empire Records was released, but it quickly became one of my favourite films when I discovered it a few years later – How “Empire Records” Became The Unlikely Film Of A Generation

Some book recommendations – 10 New Must-Reads for September and 46 Brilliant Short Novels You Can Read In A Day

On anxiety and those “[insert name here] is typing…” text bubbles – Bubbles Carry A Lot of Weight

I’ve included some of Rebecca’s essays before, I really enjoy her xoJane series and I’m often surprised, relieved and/or left teary-eyed when she articulates something that I have struggled to put into words myself – DISPATCHES FROM THE PROZAC RABBIT HOLE: What It’s Like When Everyone Knows You Have Anxiety

On life, fitness, illness and finding fitness again – On becoming and unbecoming an athlete

Cinefix have compiled what they deem the 100 most iconic shots in movies – 100 Most Iconic Shots of All Time

If you want to know what all the movies are, you’ll find a labelled version of the video here

This Week I’ve Been Reading #10

It’s time for another round up of blog posts, articles and stuff from the internet that caught my attention this week.

A previously unpublished chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

A Brief History of Texting in Movies

On social media, memoir and how we tell our life stories – A Memoir Is Not a Status Update

On running and dealing with mental health issues – ‘Running helps me cope with post-traumatic stress disorder’

This is beautiful and left me a little teary-eyed – More than 60 years later, a love note from a familiar stranger

Song lyrics written as if they were Sonnets – Pop Sonnets

This post about rape culture is worth taking the time to read and share – Rape (Culture): A Dirty Little Word

It’s good to see beauty bloggers talk about products they have problems with. Here are two posts about a brand that has been popping up all over my social media timelines lately – Fuschia Makeup and Fuschia Make-Up and my two cents on private labelling

If, like me, you are always looking for books to read (you should see my ridiculously long to-read list) then here are some recommendations. I’ve already read a few from this list, with Jennifer Johnston’s  ‘How Many Miles To Babylon?’ being my favourite so far – Ten Irish books that will change you

An interesting article on whether people with Coeliac Disease (or Non Coeliac Gluten Sensitivities) need to avoid gluten in beauty products. I think it’s something that doctors don’t know enough about meaning the advice given can be a bit hit and miss. One doctor laughed at me for worrying about such nonsense because I don’t eat moisturiser, another told me to only avoid gluten in lip products and a third doctor told me that avoiding anything containing oats should be enough. It has been six years since my diagnosis and I’m still trying to figure out what products work for me  – Do Your Beauty Products Really Need To Be Gluten-Free?

I’m still unsure how I feel about the development of a nail polish that changes colour when it comes into contact with certain drugs (Rohypnol, Xanax and GHB). It is a clever idea, no doubt.  Setting aside the depressing fact that anyone thought it was needed in the first place, it does kind of feel like the onus is, once again, on women to prevent sexual assault – The Date Rape Drug Detecting Nail Polish…Thoughts?Some questions about Undercover Colors anti-rape nail polish and Why is it easier to invent anti-rape nail polish than find a way to stop rapists?

This Week I’ve Been Reading #9

A round up of blog posts, articles and stuff from the internet that caught my attention this week.

50 Sufferers Describe Depression for People Who’ve Never Been Depressed

Anne Theriault (aka The Belle Jar) on why she is so open about her mental health issues – Airing My Dirty Laundry

‘Grace’ is still one of my favourite albums – The legacy of Jeff Buckley’s amazing Grace, 20 years on

On Hair, There and Everywhere, and Intra-Cultural Shame

JP O’Malley on trying to leave the Catholic Church – It’s my sacred right to leave the Catholic Church

Some of the comments on this blog post are just plain bonkers and I know there is a whole story about the Australian tennis authorities having it in for Mousley, but it does re-raise the question around provisional bans for suspected doping/drug offences and whether they should be made public  – Brad Mousley: 1 year ban for ecstasy (and yet another mystery withdrawal explained)

Denied an Abortion: The Questions that Need Answering

On Friday news broke that a suicidal woman delivered a baby by Caesarean section in her second trimester. She had been refused an abortion. It was reported that the panel of experts “determined the life of the mother and the child was not at risk from suicide”, but given the advanced nature of the pregnancy a decision was made to deliver the baby.

This case, which is believed to be one of the first under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, 2013, immediately led to questions being asked. If the panel had deemed the woman’s life to be at risk from suicide and given the advanced stage of the pregnancy it is likely a Caesarean section would have been the only possible outcome given the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution. But if the panel decided there was no risk from suicide why was the Caesarean section carried out?

As additional information became available, across various newspapers, some of which contradicted what had previously been reported it became apparent that (a) trying to explain this story without giving away too many indentifying and personal details would be almost impossible and (b) we may never know exactly what happened, especially at crucial times during this case (more on that later).

On Saturday, the Irish Independent follow-up to their initial story stated that the woman discovered she was pregnant at a late stage. An abortion was refused even though the two psychiatrists on the expert panel “believed that an abortion was justified on suicide grounds, notwithstanding the advanced gestation.” Her life was deemed to be at risk, but an abortion was no longer an option as the pregnancy was too far advanced.

The woman became even more distressed when she was informed that an early delivery rather than an abortion was to be administered. According to the article she began refusing food and liquids. In response the HSE sought a care order as they feared that the woman would starve herself.  In the end, however, she agreed to the early delivery before the care order was finalised.

The Sunday Times (opening paragraphs available here with the rest behind a paywall) reported that the young woman, who is not an Irish citizen and has limited English, became pregnant as a result of rape and sought to have an abortion as soon as she discovered this at eight weeks.

We now have two versions of events. The first being that the woman only discovered she was pregnant late on. The second that the woman found out about her pregnancy at eight weeks and immediately sought an abortion. The woman claims that her request was delayed until it was too late. Her legal status meant that she was unable travel to the UK. A High Court order prohibits the full details of the woman’s circumstances being reported.

It was also reported that following the woman’s refusal of food and liquids the HSE “brought an emergency ex-parte High Court application on Saturday, August 2, seeking orders allowing it to forcibly hydrate the woman to protect her and the unborn baby’s life. It also sought declaratory orders allowing it to carry out certain medical procedures relating to the woman’s pregnancy.”

The hydration order was granted with subsequent reports saying that the order was not implemented because the woman agreed to the Caesarean section.

Over the next few days, the information given about the woman became more personal. She has not been named, but The Guardian published her age and the Irish Independent that she’s an asylum seeker. Could the story have been told without making these things public knowledge? I don’t know, but it seemed that every article had something new that could possibly make the woman identifiable.

In an interview with the young woman The Irish Times have named the agency that she was dealing with before being referred to hospital by a GP after a suicide attempt was interrupted.

While we have heard from the woman herself (although she has still not been named) it can’t have been easy for her to know that her ordeal was news. Did this play a part in her decision to tell her side of the story? Is going public with abortion stories the only way to get anything done in this country? Will any woman who has to rely on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act have the details of her life, if not her name, reported in the media? There has to be a balance between cases that are in the public interest and the privacy of the people involved.

RTE is reporting that the expert panel made a certification under Section 9 of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act that “a termination of pregnancy should take place, by way of Caesarean section.” In other words, the pregnancy was ended, they did their job as far as they’re concerned. The hospital and the consultants involved have not been named.

Bringing me back to the point about a c-section possibly being the only option, under the law, considering the pregnancy was in the second trimester. The guidelines that could answer this have yet to be officially published, although a draft copy was obtained by The Guardian. This is despite the fact that the law came into force eight months ago.

The HSE is to investigate the sequence of events in this case. This could be crucial in finding out what happened in the 12 weeks between discovering she was pregnant and coming to the attention of the HSE at 21-22 weeks. That the HSE assert she only came to their attention in the second trimester may be why the Irish Independent concluded that the woman only discovered her pregnancy late on.

What documents was she told would be arranged for her? Why was the issue of the cost of travelling not mentioned at an earlier stage? Why was it a GP that referred her to hospital and not the agency she had been attending? If the woman shared her suicidal ideation and attempts with this agency what did they do about it?

I hope this report fills in the 12 week gap between when the woman discovered she was pregnant and being examined by the expert panel. Further, that it clears up any inaccuracies. I would not be surprised to see our old friend “systems failures” deemed to have played its part in this case.

We now have a young woman who was already dealing with traumatic circumstances left even more traumatised by the way the State treated her. We have a premature baby who is expected to be taken into care and may face long term health issues as a result of being born at 24-26 weeks.

We have a nation saddened, angered and asking how and why this was allowed to happen, a nation seeking assurances that this doesn’t happen again.

We have said “never again”, far too often. And yet, here we are. Again. The more I think about Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale the less it seems a work of fiction, more a how-to manual.

It was our abortion law, rather than our lack of law, that caused the issue this time. We need to repeal the Eighth Amendment. It won’t be an easy task and it won’t solve the problem immediately, but it’s a good place to start. We need to decide on the type of abortion laws we actually want and need. We need to move forward.

Update – Wednesday, August 20th

Today it was revealed (here and here) that the young woman actually came to the attention of the HSE back in May. Two months earlier than had previously been reported.

What happened between being referred to “a HSE staff member” in late May and when she was examined by the expert panel? What kind of care, if any, did the vulnerable young woman receive during this time?

Will Crisis Pregnancy Agencies be given the protocols they now feel they need when dealing with suicidal pregnant women?

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar wants to read the HSE report before engaging with the case in a detailed way. That report is due at the end of September.