Irish pro-life group insists abortion on demand is likely

An pro life sign on the inside of a bus window during a pro life rally in Dublin Credit William Murphy infomatique via Flickr CC BY SA 20 CNA500 US Catholic News 11 14 12 pro-life sign on the inside of a bus window during a July 2, 2011 rally in Dublin, Ireland. | William Murphy-infomatique via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

An Irish pro-life group has reiterated its opposition to proposed new regulations or laws on abortion, warning that these would effectively allow "abortion on demand."

"All of the options, basically, allow abortion in one way or other," Ide Nic Athuna, a spokeswoman for the Irish pro-life group Youth Defence, told CNA Nov. 28.

"These allow for the deliberate abortion procedure, which is the intentional killing of an unborn child. So that's what we're faced with now."

In December 2010 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ireland needed to clarify the legal status of abortion, in line with a 1992 Irish Supreme Court decision that held it is permissible to save the life of a pregnant woman.

The Irish Minister for Health James Reilly on Nov. 27 brought before the Irish Cabinet several options to implement the court ruling for "lawful termination of pregnancy." The list of possible ways to change the current situation includes non-statutory guidelines, statutory guidelines, legislation alone or legislation with regulations.

Alan Shatter, the Irish Minister for Justice, argued that Irish abortion law has "deeply dysfunctional and obtuse legal architecture badly in need of reform," according to the Irish Times. He said the government is "not considering in any shape or form abortion on demand."

But Nic Athuna asserted that if the Irish Supreme Court decision is implemented it "will basically lead to abortion on demand."

She told CNA that the decision allows abortion when a pregnant woman threatens suicide.

"There is absolutely no way to disprove that somebody is suicidal and therefore … not entitled to abortion," she said. "Many senior psychiatrists have said in the last few days that putting that into law will allow widespread abuse."

"Abortion has never been considered a treatment or a cure for suicidal ideation. But now they're trying to put that into law," she stated.

Nic Athuna said pro-life advocates are also concerned that backers of abortion legalization are trying to reclassify treatments that are presently performed in Irish hospitals as abortions. Those procedures include treatments for ectopic pregnancy, preeclampsia, or cancer in cases where a woman is pregnant.
"Hospital treatments are what they are. But they are not abortions," she said, warning that advocates intend to reclassify these treatments to make abortions appear acceptable and to legalize "deliberate and intentional abortions."

Efforts to develop abortion regulations and laws have been underway since January 2012.

However, the Oct. 28 death of Savita Halappanavar in an Irish hospital has added to the controversy.

The woman was 17 weeks pregnant when she went to a Galway hospital Oct. 20 with severe back pain. Doctors determined she was miscarrying, at which point she asked for an abortion.

Medical staff would not perform an abortion as long as her child had a heartbeat. The child died Oct. 24 and its body was removed.

However, Halappanavar developed an infection. Her heart, kidneys and liver stopped working Oct. 27 and she died the next day from blood poisoning.

Halappanavar's family and abortion advocates contend that an abortion would have saved her life. An independent inquiry is investigating.

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Nic Athuna said after the woman's death "absolutely every media outlet has been screaming for legislation."

"The pro-abortion lobby has been given a huge platform," she added. The controversy has "softened" the Irish people to the idea of abortion legislation because of the repeated insistence that legalized abortion would have saved the woman's life.

"Nobody can say for certain," she said. "Nobody knows yet exactly why that baby died."

However, Nic Athuna said the debate has improved in recent days.

"Gradually, people have been calming down," she said, charging that abortion advocates "created absolute hysteria."

"We're just trying to roll back that propaganda," she said, accusing groups like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the Family Planning Association of using these cases "to further their own agenda in an effort to get the public on their side and get the government to do their will."

"The average Joe on the street eventually does get through the hype and does see the truth," Nic Athuna said. "Hopefully we can overcome that again in time before the government does try to force legislation on that."

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She said the government should recognize "the will of the people, which have always been against abortion in three separate referenda."

Irish medical practice, she said, has made the country "one of the safest places in the world for a woman to have a baby."

Ireland "protects and gives dignity and respect to both women and children in our hospitals."