Wednesday’s announcement from the Minister for Health setting out the framework for the three-year review of the abortion legislation showed how determined Stephen Donnelly and his government colleagues are to avoid any discussion at all during the review regarding the real impact of the new law and the horrific things that have occurred under it – things that government ministers promised would never happen.
Minister Donnelly launched the review at the Oireachtas Health Committee. In his introductory remarks, he made clear that the review will only look at the operation of the law and not other areas. Later on, however, he appeared to contradict his opening remarks by stating that changes to the law might be considered and he encouraged people to make submissions to this effect if they had particular recommendations.
As though to preempt the outcome of the entire process, Donnelly also expressed concern to the committee that “ease of access” for abortion had not yet been achieved and suggested changes were needed to ensure greater access.
It is both lamentable and disrespectful for the minister to make such remarks given that 13, 243 babies lost their lives in the first two years of the law coming into effect. One wonders how many more lives ended by abortion would it take for the minister to be satisfied that ease of access had been achieved?
The remarks by Principal Officer in the Department of Health, Geraldine Luddy, before the committee were also highly inappropriate. She said the independent chairperson chosen to oversee the review in the New Year needed to be someone with a “sexual reproductive rights approach” to the issue. That’s the ideological language of the pro-abortion side and it greatly undermines confidence in the impartiality of the process.
The most important take away from Wednesday’s announcement however is the lengths the Government is prepared to go to keep the lid on the horrors that are occurring under the new law. If they didn’t fear what would come to light they would have announced a more open and transparent review process.
It was terrific on Wednesday to see pro-life TDs resolute and undeterred by Minister Donnelly’s announcement. They know that attempts by the Government to suppress the truth about what’s happening under the new law won’t succeed forever.
The pro-abortion movement’s desperate attempt to shut down debate comes from a position of weakness not strength. We need to take heart from this as we approach 2022 and prepare to work even harder to get the truth of what’s happening out to the public. The latest opinion polls conducted by Amárach Research shows the strong public backing that exists for the proposed changes to the abortion law being put forward by the pro-life movement as part of the three year review.
Stephen Donnelly announced this week that the tendering process for the research to be carried out as part of the review has commenced. The review will also involve consultation with women who sought abortions under the new law, those who carried out abortions, and with interested groups and members of the public. The chairperson of the review process will be appointed early in the New Year and the review itself is expected to be completed by the summer of 2022 or autumn at the latest.