Abortion should be considered ‘medical treatment’: Irish expert group in leaked report
DUBLIN, November 26, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A long-awaited report to the Irish government by the “expert group” appointed to examine the country’s abortion laws, has recommended that “limited abortion” be available in specific medical facilities and that an “appeal” process be established for those women refused abortion.
The head of the UK’s most prominent pro-life organization, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, told LifeSiteNews.com that if the report’s recommendations are followed, Ireland “will end up with a similar abortion regime to Great Britain,” where abortion is effectively available on demand.
The timing of the release of the report couldn’t be worse for those working to uphold Ireland’s protections for the unborn. In recent days heavy pressure has been put on Ireland both locally and abroad in the wake of the death of Savita Halappanavar, who abortion advocates claim died after she was denied an abortion in an Irish hospital.
According to a leaked copy of the report, the group is recommending that “termination of pregnancy should be considered a medical treatment regardless of whether the risk to the woman arises on physical or mental health grounds.”
“In the case of a risk to the mother it must establish criteria or procedures by which a doctor is to assess that risk; and set up an independent review system where a patient disputes her doctor’s refusal to certify that she is entitled to a lawful abortion and where there is a disagreement between doctors as to whether one is necessary,” the report said.
The report concludes, “Ultimately, the most politically contentious aspect of the report is likely to be its analysis of whether non-statutory guidelines on the rights of a woman to an abortion in Irish hospitals, or a legislative response, will meet the requirements of the European Court of Human Rights.”
The expert group was established in response to the demands by the European Court of Human Rights ruling that said Ireland must “clarify” under what circumstances abortion can be considered legal. That ruling came in the notorious A,B&C case, brought by the Family Planning Association, an affiliate of Planned Parenthood International.
The A,B&C case followed the 1992 ruling of the Supreme Court of Ireland on the “X” case, which found that despite the constitutional protections for the unborn, abortion was lawful if the mother’s life was threatened, “including by the threat of suicide.” Pro-life advocates in Ireland have identified the X case as the crack in Ireland’s pro-life defenses, which abortion lobbyists have been chipping away at for years in various court cases.
SPUC’s John Smeaton pointed out that Britain’s Abortion Act 1967 is based on “the false premise that there are circumstances in which abortion is a clinically-indicated medical treatment.” This would mean that abortionists should automatically be exempt from prosecution under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, under which abortion remains a criminal offence in Britain.
“It is no surprise,” Smeaton added, “that the report calls for the 1861 Act’s provisions on abortion to be removed from Irish law.”
The report claims Ireland has a legal obligation to establish “effective and accessible” procedures for women who are “legitimately entitled” to abortion. Labour politicians have used the report’s recommendations to insist that the government bring forward legislation legalizing abortion “speedily.”
The government, the report said, “is entitled to and indeed obliged to regulate and monitor” the rights of the unborn, but it must ensure that “measures that are introduced to give effect to this constitutional right should not act as an obstacle to any woman who is legitimately entitled to seek a termination on lawful grounds.”
According to Smeaton, “the Irish people must rise up and demand that the Irish constitution’s ban on abortion be upheld against this report, which is the fruit of the international pro-abortion lobby’s machinations.”
Bernadette Smyth, the head of Northern Ireland’s Precious Life, told LSN, “I am very concerned that this so-called ‘expert group’ is trying to introduce a pathway for abortion-on-demand in Ireland.
“Any debate or recommendations on abortion in Ireland must first and foremost recognise that abortion is a criminal issue and not a medical issue.”