Hilary White

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Irish Ministers claim abortion bill doesn’t change, only ‘clarifies’ the law

Hilary White
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DUBLIN, May 6, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While both the Labour Party and pro-life advocates have said that the Irish government’s “Protection of Life during Pregnancy” bill will allow abortion in all nine months of pregnancy, ministers insisted this weekend that their bill represents no significant change in the current law.

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny claimed in a press conference that the bill will not change the country’s ban on abortion but only brings “legal clarity” to doctors. He said it only allows “terminations” when a group of doctors has unanimously decided that there is a risk to the life of the mother, including from a threat of suicide.

Health Minister James Reilly also claimed to RTE, the state radio broadcaster, that the bill does not allow for the direct, intentional killing of the unborn child: “There’s no right conferred on the woman to end the life of the foetus, there’s only a right to end her pregnancy if it’s a risk to her life.” 

Asked what would be done with the “unwanted” child who survived the “medical procedure,” born prematurely and possibly disabled as a result, Reilly said they would simply become wards of the state. 

“Well, just that any child that is born that is not wanted by a parent or parents, it (sic) is brought into care and the system and the State will care for that child, and there’ll be no question – ’cause you raised that question too – of any liability on behalf of the doctors.” 

Pro-life advocates, however, have said that the bill’s own wording gives the game away. The bill says that it “provides that it is not an offence to carry out a medical procedure in the course of which or as a result of which unborn human life is ended.” 

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Nowhere in the bill is the term “abortion” or “termination of pregnancy” defined, though these expressions are used throughout, and the term “medical procedure” is left open, as including “the provision of any drug or any medical treatment.” 

This was taken at face value by the Catholic bishops’ conference, which said in a statement that the bill will “make the direct and intentional killing of unborn children lawful in Ireland.” 

“The bill as outlined represents a dramatic and morally unacceptable change to Irish law and is unnecessary to ensure that women receive the life-saving treatment they need during pregnancy,” the bishops said. 

Niamh Uí Bhriain, head of the Life Institute, told LifeSiteNews.com that the ministers’ claims were “totally disingenuous”. “A woman going for an abortion doesn’t want to be presented with a live child. The point is to kill the child and that is clearly what is intended.” 

“There are enough abortion-minded doctors in Ireland who would be willing to use the provisions in the bill to simply kill the child, using the suicide threat as a pretext,” she said. 

She pointed to the revelations of endemic abuse of similar laws in the UK where abortion facilities have been found to be openly flouting requirements that a mother provide one of the approved “grounds” for abortion and have doctors sign off. Abortion facilities have been shown to be willing to lie on official forms, going so far as keeping stacks of pre-signed permissions ready for clients. 

Meanwhile, Alex White, the strongly pro-abortion Labour Party Minister of State at the Department of Health, has defended the bill in an interview with RTE, saying that there is “no question” that the bill allows “termination” with no gestational age limits, that is, throughout the term of a pregnancy. Previously, two Labour TDs had confirmed that, for the Labour Party this bill is one key step towards having Ireland adopt a totally unrestricted abortion regime. 

The pro-life article of the Irish Constitution, established by a referendum in 1983, says, “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.” 

The Constitution requires that doctors give equal consideration to the life of the unborn child as the life of the mother. Under the current law, doctors are not allowed to take any action deliberately intended to end the life of the child. 

Current medical practice in Ireland allows physicians to induce premature labour and deliver a child before viability if it is believed necessary to save the life of the mother. Doctors are required to treat the child as another patient and do everything possible to save the child’s life as well. 

The new bill was brought forward after a ruling in 2010 from the European Court of Human Rights, ostensibly to “clarify” under what medical circumstances “termination of pregnancy” is legal in Ireland. 

Responding to the bishops’ statement, Kenny claimed that the bill does not change existing law: “This bill restates the general prohibition on abortion in Ireland. The law on abortion in Ireland is not being changed.” 

“Everybody’s entitled to their opinion here but as explained to the Cardinal [Sean Brady] and members of the Church my book is the constitution and the constitution is determined by the people. That’s the people’s book. We live in a Republic and I have a duty and responsibility as head of Government to legislate in respect of what the people’s wishes are,” Kenny said. 

Uí Bhriain responded that Kenny is acting “out of arrogance,” alleging that his only interest is in getting the bill passed, no matter what the consequences. 

“The people have never voted to legalise abortion, and Mr. Kenny knows full well that he can resolve this matter by introducing guidelines and allowing the people to reverse X by means of a referendum,” she said. 

“Instead he is hiding behind the European Court ruling and trying to use the Constitution to justify the horrendous nature of his abortion proposal. It’s unacceptable, politically embarrassing, and pathetic.” 

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