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Independent TD Danny Healy-RaeYouTube screenshot

IRELAND, October 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A pro-life lawmaker is under fire in Ireland for forcefully condemning the government’s plan to legalize abortion, following a constitutional referendum this summer that paved its way in the formerly pro-life country.

On May 25, the people voted 66% to 33% to repeal the country’s 8th Amendment, which recognized that preborn children have a right to life deserving equal protection. The repeal did not directly legalize abortion, but cleared a path for legislation introduced this month in the Dáil Éireann (the Irish legislature’s lower house).

Bill 105, the so-called Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill, would legalize elective abortions for the first 12 weeks, abortions for “risk to the life, or of serious harm to the health, of the pregnant woman” up until viability (including “mental health”), abortions at any point in “emergency” cases of “immediate risk” to the woman’s life or health,” and abortions at any point in cases where doctors diagnose a “condition affecting the foetus that is likely to lead to the death of the foetus either before, or within 28 days of, birth.”

Notably, the bill’s definition of “termination of pregnancy” expressly admits that abortion “is intended to end the life of a foetus.”

During this week’s debate, Independent TD (Teachta Dála, member of the lower house) Danny Healy-Rae criticized the government for trying to enact the bill without giving the people time to debate it, as well as its moral implications.

“If we are going to rush this bill through, that is not right,” he said, the Irish Examiner reports. “For the first time in history, the minister is forcing doctors to perform abortions against their conscience, which is most unjust. Doctors and staff will be bullied to do this job they never wanted to do.”

He also criticized recent comments by Health Minister Simon Harris, The Journal reports.

“I was listening to the radio one evening recently and you came out on the radio and you said that it was terrible to think that a mother was coming from abroad [after an abortion] with their young one in the boot of the car,” Healy-Rae said. “I don’t know what you meant by it minister, but I surely know that the baby, the little dead baby, didn’t feel very loved.

“And it didn’t make a difference that the baby was in the boot of the car in London, or the north of Ireland or the south of Ireland,” he continued. “The unborn baby was dead at that stage anyway. So I was very hurt when I heard you saying something like that.”

Harris responded that he had been “telling the story of a couple who I met” who was devastated by the news of a wanted baby who “wasn’t going to live.” He denied that they wanted to “kill their baby,” but that they were further anguished by people coming up to the pregnant mother asking if it was a boy or girl. They went to the United Kingdom for the abortion, and brought their baby back in a coffin.

The pro-abortion group Terminations for Medical Reasons Ireland blasted Healy-Rae’s comments as vile, but pro-lifers argue his objections are well founded.

For months, pro-lifers warned that repeal campaigners’ promise of a “moderate” abortion bill would give way to more radical designs. They say these fears have been vindicated by Harris’s previous comments that he wants “free” abortions to be covered by taxpayers and “exclusion zones” to prevent pro-life protests around abortion facilities; and Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar’s calls for forcing pro-life doctors to make abortion referrals and publicly-funded Catholic hospitals to commit abortions.

“This is the opposite to how many of us view health care,” Dr. Andrew O’Regan of Irish Doctors for Life told the National Catholic Register. “For the first time, we are being asked to use our skills as doctors to harm instead of to heal […] the minister has failed to adequately protect the conscience rights of doctors.”

Recent polling conducted by Amárach Research and released by the Pro-Life Campaign has found that 80% oppose forcing doctors and other healthcare workers to commit abortions, 79% support offering women ultrasound images before abortion, 69% want doctors to give life-saving care to babies who survive abortions, 60% oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, and a narrow majority opposes mandatory abortion referrals.

The Irish people didn’t demand such a radical abortion regime when they repealed the 8th Amendment, the Life Institute’s Niamh Ui Bhriain argues. “Pro-life TDs including Mattie McGrath, Michael Collins and Carol Nolan, are seeking amendments to ban abortion on disability grounds, and to protect pro-life doctors,” she says. “Most reasonable people would support these amendments. Minister Harris is deluded if he thinks otherwise.”