By editor - 02 July, 2013
“I am in no doubt by now that this legislation will pass, notwithstanding the many reservations expressed privately and publicly by colleagues from all parties – indeed, in the face of the grave reservations expressed by experts psychiatrists in two separate sessions of Oireachtas health committee hearings,” she said. “I can only hope that logic and verifiable evidence will prevail and substantive amendments will be accepted to ensure that the rights of all human beings are protected with the full rigour of the law.”
She explained how she never regarded herself as a pro-life campaigner, and indeed once held a very different view on the matter. However her views have evolved over the years as she learned more about the topic and came in contact with friends and family affected by abortion.
“Crucially for me I stepped outside the “groupthink” which I genuinely believe dominates this debate in Ireland. It seems that if you do not succumb to the accepted view that abortion is a “liberal issue”, a “women’s rights issue”, a cornerstone of the “progressive agenda”, then you are deemed to be a backward, illiberal, Neanderthal fundamentalist who belongs to a different era. The distinct irony of this prevailing view, is that it is so illiberal in its intolerance of any alternative outlook,” she said.
She stated that people have condemned her for having a “moral” or ethical concern about abortion.There is an emerging consensus in Ireland which suggests that having a sense of morality has something to do with the Catholic Church.
“This is deeply worrying. It is a lazy way of attempting to undermine the worth of an argument, without actually dealing with the substance. This is not just a Catholic issue, any more than it is a Protestant or Muslim issue. This is not a religious issue. It is a human rights issue,” she said.
She asserted that when making a decision on life and death, as this issue is, all she can do is consult her conscience, which is based on her sense of what is right and what is wrong. She said that the right to conscientious objection is enshrined in Article 18 of the United Nations, Universal Declaration on Human Rights which states:“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion….”
She hoped that some substantive changes might be accepted to improve the legislation in order to make it “more compatible with our constitutional obligations as legislators.”
She welcomed sections 7 & 8 of the Bill in that they bring certainty for medical practitioners and pregnant women in the case that there is “a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother”. However she has concerns about the inclusion of the so called “suicide clause” in the legislation (section 9).
“Not only does it fly in the face of the evidence presented at both hearings of the Oireachtas health committee, where the overwhelming view of the medical profession was that suicide could never provide a treatment or a solution to suicidal intent, but in addition, this clause has the potential to normalise suicidal ideation by enshrining suicide on our statute book for the first time,” she said. “The only way to avoid the introduction of this flawed element of the legislation is to omit it entirely from the Bill. I would urge Minister Reilly to to read and reflect upon the expert psychiatric evidence presented to the Heath Committee hearings. I would also ask him to study the joint statement endorsed by 113 Irish psychiatrists, who unanimously declared in an alarming but illuminating statement that the suicide clause is simply unworkable.”
She also called for a legal term limit for the carrying out of an abortion which she said is the “absolute minimum protection necessary in a civilised country.” She said that such a provision would give a firm legal basis to what is already the interpretation of Government, and provide some reassurance to those citizens with concerns about the possibility of abortion up to full term.
She also raised the question of the right to legal representation for the unborn which she said is the “minimum protection required”.
By Ann Marie Foley