DUBLIN, January 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Irish coalition government has included in an “expert committee” on abortion the lawyer who acted in the notorious “X case,” the 1992 attempt to overturn the country’s constitutional amendment outlawing abortion.

Niamh Ui Bhriain, the head of the Dublin-based Life Institute, told LifeSiteNews.com that the move is only the latest step by pro-abortion elements in government who are preparing the way to legalize abortion. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen that committees like this have been used in the past to carry out a pre-ordained anti-life agenda,” she said.

The 14-member committee also includes Dr. Deirdre Madden, a law lecturer who has stated that there are “very strong reasons for believing the embryo is not yet a person.” Another appointee is Dr. Ailish Ní Riain, a GP who has written medical practice guidelines describing unborn children as “contents of the uterus” and insisting that doctors should assist in referring mothers for abortion.

The government has established the panel to advise on Ireland’s abortion laws in response to the December 2010 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which claimed the X case means the law must allow abortion when the mother’s life is endangered.

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This “life-saving abortion” exception, Ui Bhriain said, is the one most commonly presented by abortionist groups like Planned Parenthood as a wedge issue in their attempts to force the full legalization of abortion. The existing law, however, already includes provisions allowing necessary medical procedures which may cause the unintended death of the unborn child in order to save the mother’s life. Irish medical experts have testified that such procedures are not abortions because the intention of the intervention is never to harm the baby.

The ECHR claimed that the 1983 constitutional amendment outlawing abortion violates women’s “right to privacy.” The court instructed the government to issue guidance to allow doctors to inform women in what circumstances abortion is a legal option. Although the ruling said that there is no “human right to abortion” implied by the European Convention on Human Rights, it claimed that Ireland’s law implies a right to abortion.

“Pro-abortion campaigners,” Ui Bhriain said, “are anxious to use the ECHR ruling to insist that the government describes perfectly ethical procedures as ‘legal, life-saving abortions’.”

This, she said, would undermine the pro-life clause in the constitution and allow for a flood of Planned Parenthood-sponsored cases to force full legalization.

Although repeated polling has shown that over 60 percent of the Irish public supports the law, the government is increasingly hostile, particularly since the last election that ushered in the coalition. The government’s junior partner, the Labour Party, is openly and aggressively pro-abortion.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has said that abortion must be legalized “where the life or health of the mother is at risk.” While the main government party, Fine Gael, does not include legalization in its policies, the party does not exclude pro-abortion MPs or candidates.

Pro-life observers in Europe are watching the Irish situation closely, concerned that one of the last EU countries with a meaningful legal prohibition will cave to international pressure. With Ireland giving up its legal protections for the unborn, it becomes harder for other countries like Poland and Malta to maintain their opposition to abortion. The ruling has raised concerns among EU pro-life advocates and democracy campaigners that the ECHR has the power to overturn laws and undermine national sovereignty.

Ui Bhriain said, “The law protects both unborn children and current medical practice which ensures that pregnant women are not denied any necessary care.

“The propaganda from pro-abortion campaigners since the ECHR ruling has been relentless however, and their repeated claims that women need ‘life-saving abortions’ is causing confusion. Correcting this is the major challenge for the Life Institute this year.”