Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

News

Irish overwhelmingly support protections for unborn: poll

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

DUBLIN, February 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A poll has shown that, with elections in a week, the majority of Irish voters are in favor of maintaining the country’s constitutional protections for the unborn.

Pro Life Campaign commissioned a survey of 1,025 people over 18 and found that 68 percent support constitutional protection for the unborn, 26 percent oppose it and 5 percent don’t know or have no opinion.

Pro Life Campaign said, “The new poll findings confirm the existence of widespread public support for an approach to protecting the unborn child based on the important distinction between ensuring women receive all necessary medical treatments in pregnancy and prohibiting abortion, where the life of the baby is deliberately targeted.”

The group cited a report by the World Health Organisation that showed Ireland, without legalized abortion, to be the safest country for pregnant women, out of 172 countries. 

A second poll question asked, “In a recent Supreme Court decision, judges said that human embryos are not protected by the Constitution but deserve respect and their protection is a matter for the Government. Do you think the Government should legislate, or not, to protect human embryos in the area of stem cell research and assisted human reproduction?

62 percent supported legal protection of the human embryo, 27 percent opposed it and 11 percent did not know or had no opinion.

At the same time, a coalition of 30 Irish pro-life groups and individuals has called for a concrete promise from candidates that the country’s constitutional protections for the unborn will be preserved.

The umbrella group, called Ireland United for Life, includes former independent MEPs Dana Rosemary Scallon and Kathy Sinnott, and has demanded that all the main party candidates sign a pledge that they will uphold the right to life from conception to death in government.

The group called for politicians to pledge that they “will not dismantle Ireland’s Constitution” and will maintain the right of the people to decide constitutional changes by referendum. 

Politicians taking the pledge agree that they “will respect and uphold the Constitutional right of the Irish people to decide on Ireland’s unique pro-life status,” and “will not legislate for abortion and will absolutely oppose any attempt by unelected judges from the European Court of Human Rights, (ECHR) to usurp the Constitutional right of the Irish people to decide on abortion.”

The group includes the director of Northern Ireland’s Precious Life Bernadette Smyth and representatives of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, Patrick Buckley and Liam Gibson. They particularly called Labour Party leader Eamonn Gilmore to task for calling for abortion on demand.

Following the ECHR decision in the notorious ABC case by the European Court of Human Rights, Gilmore claimed that Ireland was now obliged to change the law to allow abortion in cases where the woman’s “health,” as opposed to her life is threatened. In jurisdictions around the world, including the U.S., this language has opened the door to effective abortion on demand without restrictions.

The Labour Party officially holds this as a policy, but other parties, while claiming to uphold the pro-life status quo, have been vague about their commitment.

The group says that leading opposition party Fine Gael “does not want to make this subject an election issue and is evading the question.” Nevertheless, Fine Gael has said they will “establish an all party committee to consider the implications of the ECHR ruling, to make recommendations respecting the range of sincerely held views on the matter.”

The other three front-running parties have said little or nothing on the issue, focusing instead on economic issues surrounding the recent economic bail-out. Pro-life advocates have made their main task during this election to keep the life issues on the front burners for voters.

Scallon told a press conference in Dublin today that the Ireland United for Life alliance was established because of a “distinct lack of open discussion, truthfulness on the intention of the parties with the exception of the Labour party who did state they would legislate.”

Ireland is one of only two countries in the European Union with comprehensive bans on the killing of unborn children through abortion. The other is the tiny Mediterranean state of Malta.

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