DUBLIN, November 26, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The media-generated uproar over the death of Savita Halappanavar in a hospital in Galway has emboldened Labour Party coalition members to push for legalization of abortion on what they believe to be a wave of public support. The government will act “speedily” to “implement a new legal framework” allowing “limited abortion,” said Brendan Howlin, the Labour Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
Echoing other Labour Party TDs, Howlin said that this government would not be the seventh in Ireland to “fail to act” on the 1992 Supreme Court judgment on the X case. The X case found that despite Ireland’s constitutional protections for the unborn, abortion was lawful if the mother’s life was threatened, “including by the threat of suicide.”
However, the uproar over abortion in Ireland has been ongoing since the 2010 decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B & C case, which said that the country needs to “clarify” under what circumstances abortion is legal. In response to this ruling, the government appointed an “expert group” to examine the law and make recommendations.
Labour have been using the death of Savita Halappanavar in the last week to push for abortion “in a really distasteful way,” Niamh Ui Bhriain, head of The Life Institute, told LifeSiteNews.com this morning. “They think they will enjoy a groundswell of support because of the work of the media. They’re pushing for this so fast because they’re hoping that public opinion has shifted.”
“They see this as the best opportunity they’re going to have.”
The strongly pro-abortion Irish media “went into overdrive” after the death of Mrs. Halappanavar, said Ui Bhriain, “whipping up an hysteria which tried to make people believe that Ireland’s pro-life laws caused the death of this young woman.”
A new website tracking the Savita case and it’s developments is to be launched today along with a video highlighting the truth in the matter and the manipulation around it. (this article continues after the video below)
However, the coalition government, split between Labour and Fine Gael, is said to be in a state of turmoil over the issue, with backbenchers and senior TDs vowing that abortion will never be legalized in Ireland. Labour is the only party in Irish politics that has ever advocated abortion legalization openly as policy.
The Irish Times reports that Labour party backbenchers will be “under pressure” from the party to vote for former Socialist TD Clare Daly’s revamped abortion Bill this Wednesday. The Times quoted Labour Senator Ivana Bacik saying, “It will be difficult to oppose Clare Daly’s Bill without some statement of intent to legislate.”
Minister Howlin told the state broadcaster RTE, “We have an expert group now to tell us in very considered detail how [to legislate on abortion] and I have no doubt that this Government will act very speedily in a measured, calm way to provide for that instruction from Supreme Court.”
The report by the government-appointed expert group on abortion will be brought to Cabinet tomorrow and is set to be made officially public next week. In sections that have already been leaked, however, the report presents several options for dealing with the legal situation on abortion, while prioritizing legislation that would legalize “limited abortion.” It recommends an appeal process for women who have been refused abortions and that the minister of health create centers for “terminations” to be committed.
Pro-life advocates have responded, however, saying that nowhere did the ECHR decision say that the country must institute legal abortion, which remains a criminal offense. The country’s constitution, which can only be changed through a general referendum, protects unborn life “from conception” as a human right. Moreover, pro-life groups have expressed grave concerns over the government’s expert group, arguing that the group was “stacked” with pro-abortion members.
Ui Bhriain said that the appearance of public support for abortion in the wake of Halappanavar’s death is dubious and is likely to be short lived “when the facts come out and the pro-life message is reinforced.” Polls have consistently shown that abortion remains unpopular in Irish society, pushing abortion lobbyists to use the “back door” method of court cases, rather than legislation.
The Life Institute and Youth Defence, the country’s leading pro-life organizations, are launching a “focused” public information campaign that will emphasize the fact that the constitution does not allow the country to be governed by foreign authorities.
“We will make it clear that abortion cannot be imposed by the European Court of Human Rights, or by the expert group’s report,” she said. “That will stop this rush to legislation.”
“What we want is to make it clear to the Irish people that they have a constitutional right to a voice in serious matters,” she said. “The options given by the expert group seem to be entirely in favour of abortion, but it doesn’t offer the option of a referendum to give the people their democratic right to have a voice.”
“What is in this report should not be the deciding factor for the decision.” The campaign, she hopes, will alert the public to the danger of allowing the court to “foist abortion” on Ireland. “They’re already in charge of the economy; do we want them in charge of every aspect of our lives and laws?”
She added, “Labour is claiming that the [ECHR] ruling is binding, but the fact is it’s not binding. According to the constitution, it’s the Irish people who are sovereign.”
If the Prime Minister, she added, considers the European court to “have more power than the Irish people, then he is in direct contravention of the constitution”.
Ui Bhriain lambasted the media for its coverage of the Savita Halappanavar affair, saying they have slandered the reputation of Ireland, which was rated as one of the best countries in the world for maternal care.
“They’ve made Ireland out to be this backward country and destroyed our international reputation, when in fact, the UK, the US and especially India lag far behind Ireland in maternal care.”
Irish law and medical practice guidelines do not prevent doctors from taking any action intended to save the mother’s life, even in the “rare” cases where pregnancy is a threat to life. This includes the pre-term delivery of a child. The guidance states: “In current obstetrical practice, rare complications can arise where therapeutic intervention (including termination of a pregnancy) is required at a stage when, due to extreme immaturity of the baby, there may be little or no hope of the baby surviving. In these exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to intervene to terminate the pregnancy to protect the life of the mother, while making every effort to preserve the life of the baby.”