Remarks by Caroline Simons, Legal Consultant to the Pro Life Campaign,
Buswells Hotel, Dublin 2, 1.30pm, 21st February 2013
The Pro Life Campaign recently commissioned Millward Brown to carry out opinion poll research on various pro-life issues including current medical practice on the treatment of women in pregnancy.
Research was carried out between 16-25 January 2013 on a nationally representative sample of 970 people aged 18+ by face-to-face interviews. The findings show a high level of support for current medical practice in Ireland.
Q1. In current medical practice in Ireland, the doctor treats the expectant mother and her baby as two patients and does his/her best to safeguard both in a crisis situation. Do you consider that this practice should be protected and safeguarded by law or not?
Result: 66% answered YES, 15% NO, 19% No Opinion. Of those who expressed an opinion 81% answered YES.
Q2. Are you in favour of, or opposed to constitutional protection for the unborn that prohibits abortion but allows the continuation of the existing practice of intervention to save a mother’s life in accordance with Irish medical ethics?
Result: 63% answered YES, 19% NO, 18% No Opinion. Of those who expressed an opinion: 77% answered YES.
What marks these findings out from other research is the way important ethical distinctions are clarified for the benefit of respondents.
A number of polls published recently citing support for abortion used the word “abortion” in the question without defining just what it meant. These questions could only lead to uninformed answers. Polls using lists of emotive circumstances also tend to distort results.
In the Millward Brown polls published today an attempt was made to differentiate between life-saving medical interventions in pregnancy and induced abortion (where the sole aim is to terminate the life of the child). It is clear from the results that a sizeable majority supports legal protection for the unborn child, while ensuring that women receive all necessary medical treatments when pregnant.
The findings published today challenge the notion that there is broad middle ground support for abortion in Ireland.
Separate from the survey results, but very relevant to the debate on abortion, I would like to make the following comments:
- As the latest World Health Organisation report on Trends in Maternal Mortality shows, out of 171 countries, Ireland is consistently in the top five in safety for women in pregnancy over the past 25 years. This is a remarkable statistic showing Ireland to be a world leader in maternal healthcare and safer for women in pregnancy than places like Britain and the US, where abortion is available on demand.
- Rather than introducing an abortion regime that blurs crucial ethical distinctions, the Government should set about reassuring the public on Ireland’s outstanding record of care in protecting women during pregnancy.
- The European Court of Human Rights judgment in A, B and C v. Ireland does not oblige the Government to introduce abortion legislation. Instead, Guidelines could be drawn up in consultation with the appropriate bodies of expertise within the medical profession based on best medical practice, addressing the requirement of clarity for women in pregnancy.
- Any legislation based on the X case would mean that for the first time members of the Oireachtas would be sanctioning the taking of innocent human life. Once that principle is conceded, there is no going back. Not only would legislation based on the X case put the right to life of the unborn at risk, it would also potentially put women’s lives at risk based on the independent expert evidence presented to the recent Oireachtas hearings. This evidence highlighted the link between induced abortion and adverse mental health consequences for women. If we are genuinely concerned about women’s health, the Government simply cannot ignore this peer-reviewed evidence.
Aine Ascough, Wendy Grace, Maria Ní Aodha and Claire Moore at Pro Life Campaign launch of Millward Brown research today which shows that majority favour protection of mothers and babies
Seana Stafford and Professor William Binchy at Pro Life Campaign launch of new Millward Brown research at Dáil Éireann today
See more detail on the new opinion poll below or download it as a PowerPoint file here