By Susan Gately - 08 June, 2013
This may be the last opportunity to protest before legislation is introduced to allow abortion, and organisers of the Pro Life vigil today, have appealed to the public to “drop” what they are doing, and join them at Merrion Square this afternoon, to register their opposition to the government’s abortion proposals. “This is the time […]
This may be the last opportunity to protest before legislation is introduced to allow abortion, and organisers of the Pro Life vigil today, have appealed to the public to “drop” what they are doing, and join them at Merrion Square this afternoon, to register their opposition to the government’s abortion proposals.
“This is the time for action,” Geraldine Martin, a spokesperson with the Pro Life Campaign (PLC), told CatholicIreland. “Rather than looking back and regretting we did not do enough in ten years time, let us act now.”
PLC is expecting thousands of people to join the Vigil for Life today which takes place from 3.00pm to 4.00pm at Merrion Squar.
“Repeated assurances from the Taoiseach and other senior government members that the abortion Bill is restrictive are meaningless. The only thing that matters is what is contained in the Bill, and what it provides for is abortion on potentially very wide ranging grounds throughout the whole nine months of pregnancy,” said PLC spokesperson Cora Sherlock, who said it was “shameful” how some government members were describing the bill as “pro life”.
“How can anyone possibly say the Bill is pro-life when it allows the direct targeting of the life of the unborn child, based on a threat of suicide where there is no medical evidence whatsoever to justify it?” she asked.
On Thursday, the Conference of Religious of Ireland, representing 136 religious congregations with over 9,000 men and women religious, appealed for Dáil TDs to have a free vote on the issue, saying that not to do so “gives the hallmark of a totalitarian regime” to the bill.
They said that because of the “moral implications of the proposed legislation and the importance of freedom of conscience,” that all TDs should be given a free vote and the option to abstain. “It is the responsibility of Government to ensure that the right to conscientious objection is guaranteed to all within Irish society, including those who have responsibility as legislators.”
Fianna Fail has already decided to allow a free vote on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013, but Fine Gael has said it will impose a party whip. “It is unbelievable that Fine Gael would go down the road of choosing to impose the whip,” Geraldine Martin from PLC told CatholicIreland.
PLC is hopeful that if the demonstration is large enough today, that Fine Gael will “revisit” that decision. “You couldn’t be a politician depending on votes in the next election, and look at large numbers and not be concerned,” she said.
In its response to the ‘Protection of Life bill’, CORI said it opposed the legislation as it allowed for the intentional killing of the unborn child when the mother’s life is deemed to be in danger.
“Currently, medical treatment of mothers, whose lives are in danger, including surgery, therapy and medication is ethically permissible,” they said in a statement, “ even if this results in the unintended death of an unborn child. This is different from abortion, which is the intentional termination of the life of the baby and is morally wrong.”
The religious leaders said that a woman experiencing suicidal ideation during pregnancy needed to have “her safety and the safety of her unborn child ensured through the provision of appropriate psychiatric and psychological intervention” and that there was no evidence that “an abortion is an intervention that reduces suicide”.
The organisation pointed out that it was speaking from experience, as among the orders represented in CORI are many involved in the promotion and protection of life and health, and in the provision of healthcare in Ireland and abroad.
On the point abortion as a treatment for suicidal ideation, PLC quotes the late Professor Anthony Clare who in evidence to the previous Oireachtas hearings in 2000, said that when he worked as a locum in Bermuda, the threat of suicide as grounds for abortion was “widely exploited” placing psychiatrists “in an impossible position”.