26.04.2023 – News Release: Abortion now certain to be major election issue given extreme nature of review recommendations, says PLC

26.04.2023 – News Release: Abortion now certain to be major election issue given extreme nature of review recommendations, says PLC

Instead of seeking to further placate the pro-abortion lobby, the Government should address Ireland’s already soaring abortion rate – Mulroy

The Pro Life Campaign has described as a “travesty and betrayal of women and unborn babies” the report issued today on the three-year review of Ireland’s abortion law. The PLC said abortion is now certain to be an election issue given the “extreme nature of the recommendations” contained in the government-backed report.

Among other things, the report recommends scrapping the three-day reflection period before an abortion happens and proposes decriminalising abortion entirely, which would effectively enable abortion on request up to birth. Shockingly, the report singles out pro-life healthcare workers and proposes imposing a statutory obligation on them to refrain from providing “misinformation” to women accessing abortion. Who decides what constitutes misinformation is not addressed in the report. Why are no sanctions proposed for pro-abortion healthcare workers spreading misinformation?

Commenting on today’s report, Eilís Mulroy of the Pro Life Campaign said:

“This entire review process will be remembered as one of the most politicised and partisan reviews ever undertaken by an Irish government. Today’s report bears this out and is a travesty and betrayal of women and unborn babies for what it leaves out as much as for what it includes. The recommendations contained in today’s report read like a checklist of the demands of the most extreme elements of the pro-abortion movement. There is no attempt by its authors to convey even the appearance of balance.

“It’s clear from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s remarks in recent days that he understands how extreme and biased the recommendations are. Nonetheless, we remain very concerned that the Government will seek to give effect to these recommendations for no other reason than to placate the very vocal and never satisfied pro-abortion lobby. We are determined to ensure this doesn’t happen. 

“A devastating 8,500 abortions took place in Ireland last year alone and almost 30,000 abortions have happened since the new abortion regime came into effect at the start of 2019, meaning that one baby is now being aborted in Ireland for every seven babies born – a truly shocking statistic. The Government should be focussing on reducing Ireland’s soaring abortion rate rather than making yet more concessions to the pro-abortion lobby – concessions that would inevitably result in even more abortions taking place each year.

“The recommendation in the report to scrap the three-day-waiting-period before an abortion takes place is a shameful proposal. There is solid evidence that the three-day-waiting-period has saved hundreds of lives each year since the new law took effect, based on the much higher number of women who went for an initial abortion consultation compared with the number who subsequently went through with having an abortion. From answers to parliamentary questions, it is known that 3,951 women between 2019 and 2021 went for an initial abortion consultation but did not follow through with having an abortion after the three-day period of reflection elapsed. There are no doubt lots of reasons why these women did not proceed with the abortion but it is reasonable to suggest that the three-day waiting period itself played a significant role for many. The research carried out for the Government as part of the three-year review never bothered to interview any of the women who changed their minds during the three-day waiting period and who had their babies. It is one of many examples highlighting the shortcomings and recklessness of the report. Many people who voted ‘Yes’ in 2018 did so following assurances that the three-day-waiting-period would be part of the law, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. He needs to clarify his position in light of this recommendation contained in the report.

“On the issue of freedom of conscience for healthcare workers, the remarks in recent days of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Micheál Martin are very troubling, where they say that maternity hospitals currently not carrying out abortions must quickly set about doing so. Are the Taoiseach and Tánaiste saying that doctors and healthcare workers must make provision for abortions even if it involves them having to ignore evidence-based medicine and their clinical experience showing that abortion has nothing whatsoever to do with genuine healthcare? Both Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin need to answer this question without equivocating. It is unconscionable that hard working healthcare professionals who are committed to preserving life would be coerced by the Government to act against their conscience to perform abortions, including particularly grotesque late-term abortions. Freedom of conscience protections for healthcare workers need to be strengthened, not further eroded. The suggestion in the report about removing funding from hospitals that do not provide abortions is absolutely obscene and reckless.

“The report also recommends introducing a statutory obligation on healthcare workers to refrain from providing ‘misinformation’ to women accessing abortion. Who’ll adjudicate on what constitutes misleading information? Will informing women about peer-reviewed medical research documenting the adverse effects of abortion on women be deemed misinformation? Will the lie claiming that abortion is ‘healthcare’ be given a green light and protective cover from the proposed new legal framework? Of all the recommendations contained in the report, this one is particularly outrageous and dangerous. Legal abortion up-to-birth for any reason could only succeed in an environment where all opposing voices are silenced. Wittingly or unwittingly, that’s how this particular recommendation made its way into the final draft. Perhaps it’s a good thing that it did. For anyone doubting how extreme and unbalanced the report is, this should prompt a rethink. The presentation of the recommendation in the report couldn’t be more pointed and prejudiced with regard to who it is targeting – pro-life healthcare workers and no one else. 

Ms Mulroy continued: “In addition to the unrelenting pro-abortion recommendations in the report, there’s also the gaping omissions. There is not a single mention in the recommendations about promoting positive alternatives to abortion. Nor is there any proper acknowledgment in the report that something needs to be done about the horror that no provision currently exists for ensuring that unborn babies during late-term abortions are given humanitarian pain relief prior to the abortion taking place. This is despite the overwhelming peer-reviewed evidence that unborn babies feel pain by 20 weeks gestation and possibly much earlier. There is also the issue of coercive abortion and the media report from late last year that a young woman was held in a room and forced to take the abortion pill. The link between telemedicine ‘at home’ abortion and coercive abortion is well established. For the report to completely side-step this issue sums up how ideological and one-sided the conclusions of the review are from start to finish.

Ms Mulroy said: “The Pro Life Campaign engaged with the review in good faith to ensure the rights of unborn babies were at least represented in the process, but we did so with our eyes open, knowing full well that Minister Stephen Donnelly had no interest in addressing any of the issues we raised, including about Ireland’s spiralling abortion rate. Given the extreme nature of the recommendations contained in today’s report, it is now certain that abortion will be a major election issue. More than 1 in 3 voters voted pro-life in the 2018 referendum and many ‘Yes’ voters at the time favoured a more restrictive abortion regime than currently exists. As the results in some marginal constituencies showed in the general election of 2020, many pro-life voters used their votes to elect candidates who backed the pro-life position. Given the stances of the main political parties in bending over backwards to appease the most extreme elements of the pro-abortion movement, we will, starting from today, be undertaking a major drive to turn out even more pro-life voters in the next election to ensure better representation for the issue in the Dáil. It is a vote that if properly mobilised could have the deciding call in many constituencies on who gets elected and who doesn’t.”

The March for Life taking place next Monday, May 1st in Dublin (Bank Holiday Monday 1st May) at 2pm at St. Stephen’s Green will respond to the three-year review report and will demand political accountability regarding the extreme and one-sided conclusions of the report.