Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he would like to see a reduction in the number of abortions taking place in Ireland.
In an interview with The Irish Times earlier this week, the Taoiseach also said he was “sorry” the recently published report of the review of the abortion law (which recommends doing away with the three-day wait) didn’t “properly explore” why so many women attended their first abortion appointment but didn’t proceed with the abortion after the three-day reflection period.
Mr Varadkar’s comments are welcome on both counts but given his record on the issue in recent years, it should come as no surprise that pro-life supporters will not be convinced of his sincerity by words alone. He will need to follow through by engaging with pro-life representatives, instead of allowing the pro-abortion side to have sole and exclusive say with regard to public policy in this area, as is currently the case. The Taoiseach, after all, promised voters before the 2018 referendum that abortion would be “rare” in the event of repeal, yet there’s been a devastating 120% increase in abortions since the law changed. For every seven babies born in Ireland today, one baby has his or her life ended through abortion.
The 1 in 3 voters who voted ‘No’ in the abortion referendum and the ‘Yes’ voters who are horrified at how the new law has unfolded, are entitled to be represented at the decision making table. The Taoiseach could take immediate steps to ensure this happens.
The Pro Life Campaign has worked tirelessly over the past two months, highlighting at every opportunity the serious shortcomings and ideological bent of the report of the three-year review. And the intervention of Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín at a recent meeting of the Oireachtas Health Committee where he directly challenged the author of the report, marked a significant turning point in the debate. In the face-to-face exchange, barrister Marie O’Shea admitted that before recommending the scrapping of the three-day period of reflection, she never met with any of the nearly 4,000 women, who according to the HSE’s own figures, went for their first abortion consultation but didn’t proceed with having the abortion after the three-day wait.
Upon its release, the report of the three-year review was lauded in the media as an exhaustive and “evidence-based” examination of the abortion law. In the intervening weeks, that assessment has been shown to be totally ill-founded as it becomes more and more obvious that the report is driven by politics, not evidence.
The Taoiseach’s remarks earlier in the week may well be an acknowledgement that some senior members of government realise the report has a serious credibility problem and are circumspect about proposing any legislative changes based on its recommendations. As pro-life supporters, however, we need to stay alert and active and continue over the summer months to lobby our local Oireachtas representatives to impress upon them strongly not to give effect to any of the extreme recommendations contained in the report of the review.