DUBLIN, February 22, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An eminent Irish oncologist, professor and politician wrote today on his Twitter account that he has never encountered a situation in which abortion was needed to save a mother’s life.

Dr. John Crown, who has lectured in 40 countries and is the author of 150 research papers told Twitter followers that he had during his medical career faced some “hard decisions re: chemotherapy in pregnancy.”

However, he said, “I don’t think I ever had a case where abortion was necessary to save mom.”

The comments come at a crucial moment in Ireland as abortion advocates have launched a media campaign pressing for full legalization of abortion. Attempting to use the existing law and legal precedents to expand abortion, they claim that women are not being allowed “life-saving medical treatment” because of the abortion ban.

Those defending the law have countered that no woman in Ireland has ever been refused medical treatment that would have the unintended effect of killing her child but that would save her life. These cases are rare, and are largely confined to ectopic pregnancy and pregnant cancer patients undergoing surgery and chemotherapy.

Abortion, pro-life advocates have said, can never be regarded as medical treatment for the mother since its only purpose is the killing of an innocent human being.

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Youth Defence and the Life Institute welcomed the comment, saying that Dr. Crown had simply bolstered other medical opinion that abortion can never be called a “life-saving treatment.”

The comments may prove especially weighty since by his own admission Crown is not pro-life, and therefore has no ideological axe to grind. “For me it’s all about functioning nervous system,” he said, and strongly criticized the pro-life position on the personhood of the human embryo, writing that the “idea that 16 cells has same rights as [a] baby [is] equaled only in absurdity by idea that [a] fully formed foetus with [an] intact nervous system has none.”

In an opinion piece published in The Independent, Dr. Crown said that “extremists” on both side of the issue should be confronted: “pro-abortion extremists who would deny the rights and humanity of what is clearly a small unborn child,” and those who advocate “the position that a fertilised egg, or an early embryo ... is as full a human being as is a new-born babe,” which he labelled a “theological” opinion.

Without playing his hand on exactly what his position is on abortion, Crown argued that “it is time for the medical profession to risk unpopularity from right and left, and to give society the best advice that we can on the issue of when an embryo becomes a person.”

Dr. Crown served as assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University until 1993, then took up the post of consultant at two Dublin hospitals, St. Vincent’s and St. Luke’s. He holds professorships in cancer research from Dublin City University and University College Dublin and was recently elected to the Irish Upper House, the Seanad Éireann or Senate.

Niamh Ui Bhriain, head of the Life Institute, wrote earlier this month that the abortion movement’s claim about “life-saving medical treatment” is a ruse to force the country to legalize abortion on demand. Youth Defence and other pro-life organizations in the country have denounced this campaign as an example of deliberate pro-abortion disinformation. 

Rebecca Roughneen of Youth Defence told LifeSiteNews.com that Dr. Crown’s statement was an important intervention “since it confirms what senior medical experts have always said: that abortion is never medically necessary.”

Abortion campaigners, she said, are brazenly engaging in “dishonest scaremongering” with the present media blitz.

“They’re repeating the same lie over and over again in an attempt to make the public believe that abortion is needed to save mothers’ lives. The fact is, as Dr Crown has just pointed out, that all the medical evidence says that’s not true.”

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute also welcomed Dr. Crown’s statement which she said exposed the lie at the heart of the pro-abortion argument. “His statement is important at this time in particular since we’re seeing a really strident and well-funded push to see abortion legalised here on the grounds of preserving life.”

Recently a study was published by the World Health Organization, The UN Population Fund, UNICEF and the World Bank, a group of decidedly pro-abortion organizations, that showed Ireland, with its pro-life protections intact, enjoys one of the world’s lowest rates of maternal mortality in the world. 2008 statistics showed a rate of 3 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births and 3.81 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. This places Ireland 202 out of 222 countries.

Ui Bhriain said that Ireland’s experience had shown that doctors did not need abortion to preserve women’s lives. “We’ve had a ban on abortion for almost 30 years and, in that time, not one woman has died because she couldn’t get an abortion in Ireland. The experts have spoken on this issue, and the most senior obstetricians and gynecologists in the country have publicly stated that abortion doesn’t cure any condition or preserve lives,” she said.