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Eighth Amendment saves 5,000+ people each year

By Susan Gately - 22 December, 2017

Senator Rónán Mullen, Peter Fitzpatrick TD and Mattie McGrath TD with Pro Life Campaign volunteers outside the Dáil on 20 December 2017.

As the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment presented its report and recommendations on Wednesday, calling for the removal of the Eighth Amendment, with abortion without restriction up to 12 weeks and up to birth in the case of a fatal abnormality, the Pro Life campaign staged a graphic demonstration outside the Dáil, where PLC members held a paper chain of people representing the 5,000 plus people saved by the Eighth Amendment each year.

“This committee will be remembered as one of the most biased official groups ever to convene in Leinster House,” said Cora Sherlock, spokesperson for the Pro Life Campaign .

The majority Oireachtas report recommended:

  • Article 43.3.3, the Eighth Amendment guaranteeing the “equal right to life of the unborn”, should simply be removed from the Constitution without anything taking its place.
  • Legislation to provide for abortion with no restrictions as to reason up to 12 weeks.
  • Abortion with no time limits in the case of a baby with a life limiting condition (fatal foetal abnormality).
  • No abortion where the unborn child has a significant foetal abnormality but the abnormality is “not likely to result in death before or shortly after birth” (e.g. Down Syndrome).
  • Abortion is lawful where the life or health of the woman is at risk with no distinction being drawn between the physical and mental health of the woman.
  • Anomaly scans to be made available to all pregnant woman between the 18th and 22nd week.

The event outside the Dáil was hosted by the Love Both Project. “The Oireachtas Committee never heard from a single parent or family who say that their child is alive today as a direct result of the Eighth Amendment,” said Ms Sherlock. “There are thousands of families like this throughout Ireland, but the committee showed no curiosity or interest in listening to any real-life stories like this that challenged the case for doing away with the Eighth Amendment.”

In many European and western countries one in five pregnancies ends in abortion mainly for social reasons, she continued. The abortion rate for Irish women (carried out mainly in Britain) is a small fraction of that, thanks to the Eighth Amendment. “There are many stories of mothers who initially contemplated abortion, only to change their minds. Today, they cannot believe they ever entertained the idea of ending the life of the child who now means the world to them.”

The PLC spokeswoman said the paper chain represented the 5,000 plus children saved annually: “Children whose parents are given more time to reflect; children diagnosed with disabilities that routinely lead to abortion in other countries; children with life limiting conditions who are welcomed into the world, however briefly; children whose fathers have a say and were given time to offer real support; children of mothers who are persuaded of the value of adoption.”

The figure of 5,000+ is based on actuarial analysis of comparative abortion rates in culturally similar European countries published in 2016. “Laws change our attitudes and beliefs. When you legalise something you make it normal. And when you make something normal, you get more of it. That’s why the abortion rate in other countries is so surprisingly high. And that’s why there is no such thing as restrictive abortion,” said Ms Sherlock.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said the Committee’s report never mentioned the baby’s humanity or right to life once. “I think this Committee has been working in a bubble, where it has only heard from witnesses who affirmed the pro-abortion stance of most members, and these recommendations are the result of that flawed and biased process. After three months the Committee has issued a report about abortion and pregnancy where the word ‘baby’ appears just once, and the baby is not mentioned at all in a way that recognises the humanity of the child or acknowledges the baby has any rights at all.”

Meanwhile, three members of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment have called for a new citizens’ assembly to explore “the means whereby positive alternatives to abortion can be explored”. Independent TD Mattie McGrath, Independent Senator Rónán Mullen and Fine Gael TD Peter Fitzpatrick challenged the findings of the Oireachtas Committee and did not sign off on it, instead publishing their own minority report, in which they criticised the work of the committee, its processes and its focus.

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