By Susan Gately - 10 May, 2015
The Pro Life Campaign has criticised the attempt by Socialist Deputy Ruth Coppinger to stir up support for a repeal of the 8th Amendment through her latest abortion bill which was discussed on Friday in the Dáil.
“It is no exaggeration to say that tens of thousands of people are alive in Ireland today thanks to the [8th] Amendment,” said Deputy Chairperson of the Pro Life Campaign, Cora Sherlock.
“We know of many mothers who are grateful for the 8th amendment because without it their children may never have been born.”
The Dublin TD proposed the bill, which calls for a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment of the Irish constitution, and called for the Labour Party and Sinn Féin (both of which have declared openly their desire to extend Ireland’s abortion laws) to support the bill.
The bill will be voted on on Tuesday (12 May 2015). This is the third bill tabled since 2012 seeking to liberalise Irish abortion laws.
Speaking in the Dáil debate, Ms Coppinger said the current law affects working class women worst, as they struggle to find money to travel to the UK, and they ended up having a “late abortion, rather than deciding to keep the baby”
Health Minister Leo Varadkar said the current law was too restrictive, but said he could not support the bill as it “affords no protections or rights at all to the unborn”.
All parties needed time to reflect on their manifestos, he said, adding that Fine Gael was elected on a mandate that they would not legalise abortion.
Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher said he believed the unborn “are entitled to protection”, adding that most people in Ireland did not want abortion on demand.
Commenting on the bill, Cora Sherlock said the 8th Amendment (Article 40.3.3) was “the last remaining constitutional protection for the unborn in Ireland”.
“Since its insertion into the Constitution in 1983, it has ensured that pregnant women in Ireland receive all necessary medical treatment and at the same time has provided full protection for the unborn child’s right to life,” she said.
Ms Sherlock called for the repeal of the “unjust” ‘Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act’ which allows abortion through the “full nine months of pregnancy on a threat of suicide, without any medical evidence to back it up”.
“But at least while the 8th Amendment is still in place, the right to life of the unborn child must still be considered by doctors in Ireland,” she added.
“What Deputy Coppinger and her supporters ignore is that the repeal of this Amendment would remove the rights of an entire group of human beings in Irish society – the unborn.”
She added, “It would be wholly preferable if the Deputy engaged in a debate that addressed the practical reasons why women feel the need to have abortions,” Ms Sherlock concluded.
The Pro life Campaign is calling on members of the public to contact their local TDs asking them to vote against Ms Coppinger’s bill. This may be done through http://www.prolifecampaign.ie/may2015/