We are obviously extremely disappointed with the result of the referendum on 25thMay that leaves unborn babies without any Constitutional protection.
Before the referendum, the Taoiseach and other members of government gave assurances to voters that any legislation on foot of repeal of the 8th Amendment would be restrictive. We would now remind the Taoiseach and his colleagues of this commitment.
When the Government’s legislative proposals become clearer, we, along with other pro-life groups and individuals, will propose specific amendments we feel should form part of any new law.
Today, we wish to set out some basic principles to assist our legislators. We acknowledge that some form of legislation for abortion is inevitable on foot of the referendum. We do not believe, however, that there is any obligation on the Government to legislate for unrestricted abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. When examined closely, providing abortion on such grounds would fly in the face of the Taoiseach’s commitment that any new law would be restrictive and that abortion would be ‘rare’.
The following is a list of basic principles we believe should be adopted by the Government:
1. Provision of counselling services to ensure that women with unplanned pregnancies are aware of all alternatives to abortion and know how to access them.
2. Where there is a risk that an unborn baby may experience pain in any capacity or degree, pain relief should be administered to the baby prior to the abortion procedure.
3. Healthcare professionals should strive to preserve the lives of babies born alive following abortion.
4. No prenatal discrimination against unborn babies, for example, on the basis of sex or disability.
5. Provision should be made for the exercise of conscientious objection by healthcare professionals and by others working in healthcare facilities. The right to conscientiously object should extend to healthcare facilities. Healthcare professionals and institutions should not be obliged to engage in making arrangements designed to result in the termination of an unborn baby’s life.
6. Healthcare professionals and facilities carrying out abortions should ensure that following abortion, disposal of the foetal remains should be undertaken in a manner which respects the dignity of the unborn baby. Sale of foetal remains or any part thereof should be strictly prohibited.
7. Wherever abortion is provided, the pregnant woman should have access to emergency care at a hospital in case of complications during or following the abortion.
8. Records should be kept by providers of medical and surgical abortions which should be submitted annually to the Minister for Health who should publish and make them public. These records should be kept in like detail with the reporting requirements in England.
Finally, as a group, we are fully committed to working towards the day when women and their unborn babies are once again fully protected in law in this country.