Irish pro-lifers rally at defining moment in abortion law

Irish pro-lifers rally at defining moment in abortion law

Pro-Life vigil in Dublin, Ireland on Dec. 4, 2012. Credit: Unite For Life
Pro-Life vigil in Dublin, Ireland on Dec. 4, 2012. Credit: Unite For Life

.- A Jan. 19 pro-life vigil in Dublin aims to rally against the government's proposal to permit some abortions, warning that abortion advocates are blurring important moral distinctions in the debate.

“Time and again, when the distinction is made between current medical practice which cares for both the mother and baby and direct, intentional abortion, voters give their unambiguous support to pro-life laws,” Caroline Simons, a legal consultant for the Pro Life Campaign, said in a Jan. 14 announcement.

She said the debate over the legalization of some abortions is a “defining moment for Ireland” and Irish people need to “make their voices heard loud and clear.”

The rally will take place in Dublin’s Merrion Square Saturday at 4:30 p.m. local time. A Dec. 4 rally outside of the Dáil Eireann in Dublin drew over 10,000 people.

Simons on Jan. 15 further explained that everyone agrees women must receive life-saving treatments even if it may lead to the unintentional death of the unborn baby.

“Where the disagreement arises is that some are skilfully but unfairly using the occasion to push for an abortion regime in Ireland and are blurring the distinction between necessary medical treatments and abortion,” she said.

The Fine Gael party, which controls the Irish government, has said it will introduce legislation to legalize abortion where the mother’s life is at risk. The proposal would conform Irish law to a December 2010 ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that called for a clarification of abortion’s legal status in light of a 1992 Irish Supreme Court decision.

That decision said abortion must be permitted to save the life of a pregnant woman, including when she threatens suicide. Irish law was never changed to reflect the ruling.

Opponents of the proposed changes to abortion law say a possible exemption for suicide threats would effectively legalize abortion on demand. They support present Irish practice which distinguishes morally wrong direct abortion from medical treatments that may indirectly put the unborn baby’s life at risk.

Fine Gael had promised not to introduce abortion legislation during campaigning for the 2011 elections. That changed following media controversy over the death of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian woman who was admitted to a Galway hospital while miscarrying. She reportedly asked for an abortion and later died of a severe infection.

Although her death is still being investigated, abortion advocates quickly seized on her case to claim legal abortion would have saved her life. The inquest will begin Jan. 18.

Any abortion legislation will not be introduced until after Easter.

“Politicians of all parties, but especially Fine Gael, need to hear the message loud and clear: the Irish people don’t want laws which treat unborn children as second class citizens, and Irish doctors don't need abortion to treat pregnant women,” Simons said Jan. 14.

“Fine Gael made a made a promise not to introduce abortion. People need to turn up in force on Saturday 19th January to make them understand they can expect to pay a heavy electoral price if they break that promise.”

Simons said the vigil has the support of all the pro-life groups in Ireland, including the Pro Life Campaign, the Life Institute and Family and Life.

“Together we intend to send a strong message to the Government that we stand united to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves,” she said.