New Abortion Law
Following on from the 2018 abortion referendum, Ireland now has one of the most extreme abortion laws anywhere in the world.
The definition of termination of pregnancy in the new legislation says nothing about healthcare or the intervention being necessary to treat a pregnant woman. It simply defines abortion as a procedure “intended to end the life” of an unborn baby. The aim of the legislation could not be clearer.
It is a law built on a lie that will not make Ireland a kinder, gentler, more compassionate place as some abortion supporters suggested would happen in the event of the law being changed.
The Dáil even refused amendments to the new abortion legislation that would have provided pain relief for unborn babies during late term abortions. The refusal to accept these basic humane amendments casts an even darker shadow over the new law.
Voters were misled every step of the way by abortion advocates during the referendum campaign. Many people voted YES in the referendum believing they were voting for ‘healthcare’. It’s beginning to dawn on some of these voters that they were lied to by pro-repeal campaigners.
In response to the changes that have happened, the pro-life movement will campaign ceaselessly to expose the lies that were told during the referendum campaign.
We look forward to a brighter day at some point in the future when unborn babies in Ireland are once again welcomed in life and protected in law.
Abortion On Demand Up To 12 Weeks
Fact: The new law permits unrestricted abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Another fact. The legislation provides for abortion on vague and undefined “health” grounds, up to viability and even up to birth.
In England, the provision of abortion is not available unrestricted up to 12 weeks. Abortion only takes place there on a supposed “health ground.” It’s correct, therefore, to say that Ireland’s new law is more extreme than the abortion law in England.
GP Led Abortion ‘Service’
A GP led ‘service’ providing walk-in unrestricted abortion on demand in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy operates in Ireland since 1st January 2019.
Before this law was introduced, doctors entered their surgeries with the intention of healing not harming, with the intention of preserving human life, not ending it.
But with the stroke of a pen, that has changed utterly.
Abortion supporters repeat the slogan about “trusting women” like a mantra.
It is a fact that some women suffer serious negative consequences after abortion. Every woman contemplating abortion has the right to know about this reality.
Yet when a group of TDs submitted an amendment on informed consent to the new abortion legislation that would have offered women contemplating abortion accurate information on the negative effects of abortion, the sponsors of the amendment were accused by abortion supporting colleagues of peddling “propaganda”. The amendment was subsequently rejected by the Dáil.
So much for the rhetoric of “choice.” So much for all the talk about “trusting women”.
Denying women basic information is a new form of misogyny. It is practised regularly in the Dáil by those claiming to be defenders of women rights!
If those pushing abortion genuinely trusted women, they would acknowledge the peer reviewed research highlighting the adverse effects of abortion on women and the devastating pain and heartbreak it causes (1,2,3).
- Abortion and mental health disorders: evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study, David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood and Joseph M. Boden, British Journal of Psychiatry, 2008, 193:444-451
- Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health. Fergusson DM1, Horwood LJ, Ridder EM. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2006 Jan; 47(1):16-24.
- Pregnancy continuation and organizational religious activity following prenatal diagnosis of a lethal fetal defect are associated with improved psychological outcome. Cope H1, Garrett ME1, Gregory S2, Ashley-Koch A1. 2015 Aug; 35(8):761-8
Amendments Expose Truth About New Law
Before the new abortion law came into effect in 2019, a series of humane amendments to the abortion bill were proposed by a group of TDs and Senators. Every one of these compassionate amendments was rejected by the Oireachtas, further highlighting the indifference of elected representatives to showing even a modicum of mercy to the unborn.
Amendments that would have guaranteed pain relief for unborn babies during late-term abortions –amendments that would have shown some respect to the unborn child and avoided the terrible spectacle of small bodies being disposed in hospital or abortion clinic ‘waste’ – amendments that sought to give women all the information they needed to make a truly informed decision and so avoid the bitter regret that many have experienced after their abortion.
But these and all the other reasonable amendments were rejected by the Government. As well as revealing a cold disregard for human life, it also shows how fearful politicians are about the truth getting out regarding the horror of their new abortion law.
The pro-life amendments shone a bright light on all this. Not surprisingly, they were attacked and ridiculed by pro-abortion TDs, not because of what they would have achieved but because of what they exposed about the new law.
For this, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the brave group of Oireachtas members who stood firm in proposing and defending the amendments.
Experiences like these are a reminder of the importance of not hanging up our boots and going home. This is the very time when we must push back even harder against the dark reality of the Government’s extreme new abortion law.
In January 2020, leading researchers including ‘pro-choice’ defender Professor Stuart Derbyshire (who used to think there was no chance unborn babies could feel pain before 24 weeks) wrote in the influential Journal of Medical Ethics that babies in the womb likely feel pain much earlier than previously thought. New evidence they say indicates unborn babies might be able to feel “something like pain” even as early as 13 weeks.
Developments like these are further proof that the abortion debate is far from settled and that regardless of the lengths ‘pro-choice’ activists go to deny the humanity of unborn babies, the truth will prevail in the end.
Freedom Of Conscience
Government claims that freedom of conscience opt-outs for healthcare workers are fully protected in the legislation do not stand up to scrutiny. While the legislation does not compel doctors to directly participate in abortion procedures, it compels those unwilling to perform an abortion to nonetheless establish contact with a colleague to ensure the abortion is carried out.
Under these circumstances, to claim that the legislation affords doctors an adequate opt-out clause is equivalent to claiming that someone who is opposed to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in countries where it’s legal should be compelled to refer women to a doctor who will perform the procedure. What’s the moral difference in this case between doing the procedure yourself and ensuring someone else does it? There’s no real difference. The net result is the same – the FGM procedure is performed. Similarly, forcing someone with moral objections to abortion to arrange for the abortion to happen implicates them in the event, in this case, in the ending of an innocent human life.
It is also of critical importance to note that the new law doesn’t provide for any positive right to conscientious objection from having to perform an abortion – it merely says that nothing in the law shall be interpreted to oblige a doctor, nurse or midwife to participate in carrying out an abortion.
This means that employers and professional groups are free to impose a duty on doctors, nurses and midwives to participate in abortions. This places Irish healthcare professionals in a worse position than their colleagues in countries like England where the Abortion Act there provides that no person shall be obliged to participate in an abortion.
Standing United With Healthcare Workers
The primary mark of a mature, pluralistic democracy is that individual citizens’ freedom of conscience is respected. Genuinely pluralistic democracies do not force citizens to do something they regard as utterly unconscionable by threatening them with criminal sanctions if they honour their conscience.
Those who framed the new law preach a lot about “respect”, “compassion” and “choice” while practicing the opposite themselves. There is nothing respectful, compassionate or accommodating about crushing freedom of conscience and coercing doctors and other healthcare professionals opposed to abortion to facilitate abortions taking place.
Compelling healthcare workers to facilitate abortion is profoundly unjust. The exercise of freedom of conscience has effectively been criminalised and those who refuse to get in line risk losing their livelihood. Imagine the psychological impact and chilling effect that the new law is having on perfectly good and conscientious individuals as they go about their day job. Their career is only ever a moment away from ending; they know they are always only one appointment away from coming in conflict with the law. It also sends a signal to young people considering applying for medicine in college: unless you want to facilitate abortions, you’re not welcome.
The way the Government is coercing doctors and healthcare workers to act against their consciences is abhorrent and indefensible. If they refuse to back down, the debate around ‘freedom of conscience’ will become a major political issue in the months and years to come.
It’s heartening to see hundreds of doctors, midwives and other healthcare workers standing up for proper freedom of conscience protections. It is a fight we will never give up on until victory is fully secured.
National Maternity Strategy Undermined
Government funding for the new phase of the National Maternity Strategy was halted in early 2019 at the very time €12 million was being made available to facilitate the roll-out of abortion provision nationally. It tells its own story about where government priorities lay when such a decision was approved.
It is not contested by politicians or departmental officials that the withdrawal of funding from the National Maternity Strategy could have a devastating impact for the safety of mothers and babies. The recent tragic death of a mother and her newborn baby in a single room in Cork University Maternity Hospital brought home the need for consistent and well-resourced maternity services to guarantee the safety of patients.
Patient representative Róisín Molloy, a then member of the National Maternity Strategy steering group, strongly criticised the decision to withdraw funding from the national maternity plan: “It is ironic that we are cutting money that should go towards providing a safe maternity system when we are spending so much more on birth injury claims to the State Claims Agency,” she said.
Ms Molloy, whose baby, Mark, died as a result of failings at Portlaoise hospital in 2012, said the money that had been intended to go on the maternity strategy was effectively being spent on abortion services since the start of 2019.
News that taxpayers’ money earmarked for the safety of mothers and babies in pregnancy was being diverted to fund abortions did not come as a surprise to those following developments closely.
Since 2013, the Government has cravenly pushed abortion at every turn and engendered fear about the need for abortion on ‘health’ grounds, all the while doing nothing to actually improve the safety of women during pregnancy.
They used the Savita Halappanavar case to introduce abortion in 2013 but sat back for another two years before introducing new guidelines for the treatment of sepsis in pregnancy, which was the real issue at the centre of the Savita tragedy.
And now once again, we see a government diverting money away from ensuring the safety of women in pregnancy (National Maternity Strategy) to instead fund abortions that have nothing to do with healthcare.
It is hard to watch ideology take the place of evidence-based medicine and respect for life. But a day will come in the not too distant future when people start to see through the duplicity and spin, and the truth of what is going on will become clear for all to see. Stories like the one above will hopefully hasten that day.
Latest Holles Street Scandal
Tragically, within months of the new abortion law coming into effect in 2019, there were media reports that a couple had lodged a complaint with the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street after they were given an alleged misdiagnosis of a ‘fatal foetal abnormality’, only to discover that their baby was perfectly healthy following test results that came back after the abortion had already taken place.
The reluctance of the Government to listen to the perspectives and experiences of families in these situations hasn’t changed since the referendum. Parents of children who received a misdiagnosis and felt pressure to go down the road of abortion have been dismissed and brushed aside for way too long. If their stories were treated with the respect and prominence they deserve, tragedies that will otherwise occur in the future could be avoided.
What a devastatingly sad and tragic outcome for the baby in the latest Holles Street case. The Minister for Health is duty bound to do whatever it takes to minimise the chances of something like this ever happening again. He should start by listening to the stories of parents who have no agenda other than to share their personal stories that shed light on the whole area of misdiagnoses and how it impacts on families and outcomes for the babies at the centre of these cases.
Ultimately, with abortion the issue is not about whether a baby has a disability or a life-limiting condition. It is about the fact that it ends the life of an innocent unborn baby.
Looking To The Future With Hope
There’s no doubt that the referendum result in 2018 would have been very different if we’d had the kind of debate that gave a fair hearing to both sides. The mainstream media in Ireland won’t change any time soon but that won’t silence the pro-life movement – for one simple reason – a human being dies in every abortion.
In 1973, the day after the Supreme Court in the US legalised abortion in the Roe v. Wade decision, the New York Times welcomed the judgment as a “final and reasonable resolution of a debate that has divided America for too long.”
47 years later, the United States is on the cusp of restoring its pro-life laws. As pro-life campaigners in Ireland, we don’t intend to wait that long to achieve our goal, but we’ll stay the course for as long as it takes to restore full legal protection to pregnant mums and their unborn babies.
Where there’s life, there’s hope. With abortion, there is no hope, just an irrevocable outcome that betrays both women and their unborn babies. It’s why we should be confident that at some point in the future we will again have a law just like the Eighth Amendment in Ireland.
Move forward we will – because for those who believe that every human being deserves a chance at life, the struggle hasn’t ended. It is simply changed.