Reports today (21 April) suggested that the report of the three-year review would include “sweeping changes” to Ireland’s abortion law. The proposals including 60 operative and 10 legislative changes would represent a complete departure from the basis on which people voted in the 2018 referendum. Although couched in academic language, the proposals are deeply extreme in nature and were driven by a fundamentally flawed process. The suggestion of ‘decriminalisation’ effectively makes the abortion law a toothless set of guidelines, meaning there may be no legal recourse to prevent an abortion from being performed shortly before birth.
The review should have been an opportunity to objectively analyse the broad impact of the abortion law. Last year we saw the highest number of abortions on record: 8,500 abortions. For every seven babies born last year, one was aborted. In just four years, we’ve seen nearly 30,000 Irish abortions. This huge rise should prompt serious reflection on the lack of safeguards and alternative pathways offered by state agencies to women in unplanned pregnancies apart from just abortion. We know the HSE MyOptions service is unequipped to offer information to women on alternatives to abortion.
It was apparent from the word go that the three-year review would be biased and flawed. Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly refused to meet any pro-life representatives, yet regularly met with pro-abortion campaigners. The credibility of the review was further undermined when he appointed a clique of academics, many with a conflict of interest due to their public history of pro-abortion campaigning, to head up the research strands of the review. Much of this research was profoundly flawed, as seen in the fact Catherine Conlon’s ‘UnPac’ report essentially recommended the removal of the required three-day waiting period yet failed to interview a single woman who availed of it and decided to have her baby. Only interviewing women who had an abortion was bound to produce an unrepresentative result. It ignored the experience of many of the women within the total of 3,951 who did not have an abortion after the three-day period for reflection elapsed (2019-21).
Leaks like this which indicate just how extreme the three-year review may be underline the need for pro-life citizens to make their voices heard. The upcoming March for Life on 1st May will therefore be a very important event to demonstrate how strong the pro-life movement is and that we will not be ignored. If the government and elected representatives believe they can steamroll these “sweeping changes” through the Oireachtas without a public backlash, they are sorely mistaken. Your attendance at the upcoming March for Life will help to show the government where thousands of people stand on this issue.