Abortion does not decrease suicidal thoughts, Irish health experts agree
DUBLIN, February 18, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life groups in Ireland have launched a public information campaign to alert the public to the danger of introducing legislation to allow abortion based on the threat of suicide. Meanwhile, the Committee on Health and Children on abortion and suicide heard unanimous testimony from experts that abortion cannot be considered a legitimate treatment for suicidal ideation among depressed pregnant women.
All of the experts in maternal health care, including obstetricians and psychiatrists, agreed that abortion was not a treatment for suicidal thoughts.
Dr. Sam Coulter Smith of the Rotunda Maternity Hospital told the committee that he had never seen any cases where abortion was “the only solution” for a pregnant woman expressing suicidal intentions. The head of St. Patrick's University Hospital, Ireland's leading psychiatric hospital, said that there is “no evidence either in literature or from the work of St. Patrick's University Hospital that indicates that termination of pregnancy is an effective treatment for any mental health disorder or difficulty.”
Dr. John Sheehan, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist at the Rotunda, said he had never seen any clinical situation in which “termination of pregnancy has been the treatment for a suicidal woman.”
“The notion of carrying out an emergency termination is completely obsolete in respect of a person who is extremely suicidal,” he added. It would not be wise in such a situation “to make a decision that is permanent and irrevocable,” he said.
The Irish government is proposing to allow “limited” abortion in cases where the mother is threatening suicide. The government’s move follows decades of pressure from the abortion lobby, which forced a crack in the law with the notorious X Case in 1992. In X vs. the Attorney General, the Supreme Court ruled that the 14 year-old girl should be allowed to abort her child conceived in rape, because she had allegedly threatened suicide if she could not. This was interpreted as granting a right to abortion if the mother’s life is “at risk” because of pregnancy, “including the risk of suicide.”
In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Irish government was obliged to “clarify” under what conditions abortion was allowed. This ruling was taken by abortion lobbyists and some in the coalition government as a pretext for bringing forward abortion legislation late last year.
Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that the governing Fine Gael party could not now ignore the evidence given at hearings which had shown “beyond all doubt” that abortion was not a treatment for suicidal intentions.
“This was the sort of evidence that parliamentary committees rarely hear - universal agreement amongst leading experts that abortion is not a treatment for suicidal depression, “ she said. “How can Fine Gael now try to pull the wool over the public's eyes or ignore the evidence.”
The campaign by the Life Institute highlights evidence that there have been no cases in which a woman had died by suicide in Ireland because abortion was not available.
“That's why this campaign really needs to be huge,” Uí Bhriain said. “It’s putting public pressure on Fine Gael to remove suicide grounds from the legislation.”
“We’re also emphasising that providing clarity for doctors does not permit the government to introduce the direct and intentional killing of the unborn child,” she said.
Dr. Seán Ó Domhnaill, a Consultant Psychiatrist, has said that the connection between abortion and suicide has been entirely manufactured for political purposes. In his own experience, he said, quite the opposite is true. Ó Domhnaill described his first assessment case in his practice, a 19 year-old girl with a major depressive disorder who had taken “a significant overdose in an attempt to end her life.” The girl, he said, had developed the depression following an abortion in the UK.
“She told me that she had been pressured by her parents and her boyfriend into having an abortion. As I attempted to assist her to gain some perspective on her mental state and the likelihood of recovery from a depressive illness brought on by her sense of loss, she asked me, ‘Can you tell me that I haven’t killed my own baby? Can you tell me that I can undo what I have done? Can you tell me how to bring my baby back?’”
The Irish constitution guarantees the right to life of the unborn, saying, “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
John Bruton, a Irish Prime Minister from 1994 to 1997, wrote in an op ed in the Irish Times last Friday, “The underlying idea behind putting human rights in the Constitution is to ensure that they cannot be easily reduced just because a (possibly temporary) majority in public or parliamentary opinion wants to do that to meet a popular demand.”
“A risk that someone might unilaterally end their life is not equal to a certainty of the ending of another person’s life by the actions of that person or of another,” Bruton continued. “That, in simple terms, is the difficulty with legislation that says that a threat or an idea of suicide is a ground for ending the life of a constitutionally recognised third party, an unborn child.”
“A law that took away a right to life of that unborn child before the right in question could be exercised independently could hardly be interpreted as ‘defending and vindicating’ the same right, as the Constitution requires.”