By Cian Molloy - 16 December, 2017
The vote in favour of legalising abortion in Ireland by the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment this week was ‘a total betrayal of women and their unborn babies and represents a tragic drift backwards for society’, said Pro Life Campaign (PLC) spokesperson Cora Sherlock.
The committee voted this week in favour of legalising the termination of pregnancy in the first trimester on demand without restriction, and in favour of allowing terminations after 12 weeks in cases where a congenital disability was detected in the unborn child, or where there was a risk to the physical and mental health of the mother.
In effect, the PLC says, the committee has voted for abortion on request in the first three months of pregnancy, and for abortion up to birth on health grounds that are not defined and that cannot be defined.
“The decision to opt for a time limit of 12 weeks on request was plucked from thin air,” said Ms Sherlock. It reveals a frightening disregard for the right to life of the most innocent and defenceless members of society, namely unborn babies. Also, the vote in favour of abortion on physical and mental health grounds is even more radical than abortion laws in other countries like England, where one in five pregnancies now ends in abortion.”
At present, in Ireland, abortion is banned under Article 40.3 of the constitution. That article was added to Bunreacht na hÉireann, when the eighth amendment was made to Ireland’s primary legal document following a constitutional referendum in 1983. In that referendum, the electorate voted by 66% to 33% in favour of the state guaranteeing to equally defend the right to life of unborn children and the right to life of their mothers. For the committee’s pro-abortion recommendations to come into effect, the electorate would have to vote in a new referendum in favour of removing Article 40.3.
“Thankfully, the committee won’t have the final say on the Eighth Amendment,” said Ms Sherlock. “The electorate will have that responsibility and I am confident they will vote to keep it.”
While the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment was sitting, it was repeatedly criticised by defenders of the right to life for displaying bias in favour of abortion proponents. For example, the committee invited the British Pregnancy Advice Service, the organisation that carries out the most abortions in the UK, to make a presentation, but it refused to invite anyone to speak to them about how they are alive today because of the protection granted to them while they were in the womb by the Eighth Amendment.
“It comes as no surprise that the openly rigged and biased Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment has voted in favour of abortion on demand,” said Niamh Uí Bhrian of the Life Institute. “It was a foregone conclusion, since the panel was stacked with pro-abortion politicians from the outset, and it heard almost exclusively from pro-abortion witnesses.
“The three pro-life politicians at the committee – Mattie McGrath, Peter Fitzpatrick and Rónán Mullen were attacked, jeered and insulted when they sought to ask challenging questions to the steady stream of pro-abortion witnesses. Apart from those three representatives, this Committee showed no interest in hearing what abortion meant for the baby. They didn’t hear from an embryologist for example, or from an abortion survivor – a suggestion made by Peadar Toibín TD – or from women hurt by abortion, or from any pro-life obstetricians or gynaecologists.”
“The clamour for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment is clearly political and media driven,” said Ms Sherlock. It is most definitely not coming from the grassroots up. As pro-life campaigners, we have a single focus in the coming months – to defend and safeguard the Eighth Amendment.”
Uí Bhrian added: “In the week before Christmas then, a great many people are saddened but not surprised to see this rigged Committee deliver the exact result it was set up to achieve. Our task now is to ensure that, through the united and determined efforts of the Life Canvass, the people see what this cruel and extreme proposal for what it really is and consequently vote to ‘Save the Eighth’.
“This death sentence handed down to helpless pre-born children by the Abortion Committee will be overturned by the people. There is a referendum to be won, and we will win it.”