Maeve O’Hanlon writes…
Over the past few weeks, many of us in the pro-life movement were bracing ourselves for the release of the first annual report on the abortions that took place in Ireland in 2019. We were not only bracing ourselves to learn of the total number of lives lost to abortion, but also for the likely tsunami of pro-choice and pro-abortion rhetoric we imagined would follow it.
We braced ourselves for hearing euphemisms like “choice” and “progress” strewn across the airwaves ad nauseam before the topic of abortion would be packed neatly away, back in its tightly sealed media box, until the next opportunity arose to make the case for relaxing the time limits even further, exclusion zones, or removing the 3 day waiting period.
In the end, the incredibly brief 5 page report was quietly published to the Department of Health website, with none of the fanfare we all remember from Dublin Castle, 2 years ago.
The Results of Repeal were in and they made for grim reading.
Soon, we learned that 6,666 abortions were performed by the Irish state in 2019 and that over 98% of those terminations were fully elective, for unspecified reasons in early pregnancy (< 12 wks). 6,666 unique and irreplaceable tiny human lives lost to choice. 6,666 mothers and 6,666 fathers left behind to come to terms with the consequences of those choices made.
The report itself was eye-wateringly sparse but it was clear that these figures reflected an enormous increase on the 2,879 women who travelled to Britain for an abortion in 2018.
Perhaps it was this realisation that the numbers did not decline after Repeal, as some ardent pro-choice campaigners had predicted. Perhaps it was just the reality of the cold hard truth that maybe the 8th amendment had saved lives after all.
Whatever it was, it was enough to silence most of those who had previously been so vocal.
There were no socially distanced press conferences to present the figures, to acknowledge the lives lost and to field questions on whether the numbers were in line with expectations, or whether they are expected to rise or fall in 2020 and beyond.
There were no comments from the former or current Taoiseach or Minister for Health. Leo, Mícheál, Simon and Stephen were nowhere to be seen.
With a few notable exceptions, beyond brief inclusion in factual news reports and articles, there was hardly even an interview, or a call in discussion to be heard or seen across the country’s media.
And with that deafening silence, the message was clear….. “Nothing to see here.”
Despite all their fine words, it appears that these men in power just don’t care about these thousands of women and the choices they made.
This so called progressive law has not left many of the 6666 women feeling “empowered”, but actually crushed under this heavy weight.
When a woman hears from her partner that it’s fully “her choice” she often gets the impression that he doesn’t care about this baby one way or the other. She may fear that if she chooses life, she may be left alone, literally holding the baby. Tragically, if she chooses abortion and regrets her decision she is very often left carrying that pain alone too.
The reality is that none of us make our choices in a vacuum, even more so when we’re desperately weighing up whether or not we think we are up to the task of raising a baby. A single word of encouragement that we can do it, or that we will be supported can make all the difference.
As can an indifferent reaction.
And what makes the silence even more disappointing is that Leo, Mícheál, Simon and Stephen won’t be the ones making the difficult choices in pregnancy but their past and future decisions about where to focus resources and priorities will make a huge difference to the environment in which pregnant mothers make their choices. Millions of euro was taken out of the maternity healthcare budget last year, and was used to provide abortion services. This a telling move that indicates where our politicians’ priorities are.
Actions speak much louder than words and the previous government’s message to women facing a crisis pregnancy was crystal clear. If you want an abortion, the State will move heaven and earth to help you. Not even a pandemic will get in the way. But if you choose to continue your pregnancy, you’re on your own.
Is it any wonder the numbers of abortions went up?
However, we have a new government now, a new Taoiseach, a new Minister for Health and a new opportunity to send a very different signal to women. While I don’t hold out much hope that 6,666 abortions will shock Minister Donnelly into becoming pro-life, I do hope that he recalls one of the scandalously overlooked findings in the Report of the Oireachtas Committee on the 8th amendment.
Simon Harris seemed to largely ignore that inconvenient truth that “the majority of terminations are for socio-economic reasons that are unrelated to foetal abnormality or to rape.” We can only hope that his successor will be more willing to consider this and to ask WHY women choose abortion, to find out what factors influence their decisions and to help make choosing life feel a little bit less scary.
Over 99% of all abortions in Ireland year were not related in any way to saving the life of the mother. The Irish people were sold an extreme abortion regime under the guise of the need to protect women’s lives. This was an appalling lie.
Minister Donnelly, I’m not naïve enough to think that you don’t know the devastating Results of Repeal. My question to you is whether or not you will show us that you care?
Maeve O’Hanlon is a Spokesperson for the Pro Life Campaign and lives in Cork where she volunteers to support pregnant women and new mothers with practical supports.