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Irish Prime Minister Leo VaradkarInternational Transport Forum, Flickr

DUBLIN, Ireland, May 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The head of the Irish government has come under fire for suggesting that pro-lifers will be condemning women to death if they thwart repeal of the Eighth Amendment banning abortion.

“If there is a No vote on Friday, it is only time before someone hemorrhages or bleeds to death,” Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said Friday in an interview with RTÉ. “If the referendum does not pass,” there will be “nothing we can do when “a girl is under age, 14, 15-year-olds and pregnant, where a woman is a victim of rape, where a woman has conceived because of incest, perhaps raped by a family member, where there is a real threat to her health.”

“I hope the majority of people in the country will take that this really is a personal and private matter,” Varadkar said. “That voting 'Yes' does not necessarily mean you are endorsing abortion, that you think it is a good thing … but you are recognising that everyone has the right to their own individual sense of morality.”

The Taoiseach went on to insist that an abortion legalization proposal lawmakers plan to introduce if the amendment is repealed on May 25 has “quite a number of restrictions,” such as limiting abortions to the first 10 weeks of pregnancy and requiring a 72-hour waiting period beforehand. But pro-lifers have warned that the plan’s “mental health” exceptions for later trimesters would render those restrictions meaningless.

Dr. Ruth Cullen, spokeswoman for the pro-life LoveBoth campaign, fired back at Varadkar’s “vile” and “disgraceful” statements, which she said were intended to “emotionally bully” Irish citizens who support the amendment.

“The Taoiseach is in effect saying that if people reject the government’s abortion on demand proposals they will be responsible for someone bleeding to death,” Cullen said. “His remarks are so vile the Taoiseach should immediately apologise and retract them. This marks a new low, even for a government that has engaged in such widespread scaremongering and misinformation.”

She also took issue with the insinuation that repealing legal protection for preborn babies was “the only way to deal with difficult cases,” and accused him of “completely ignor(ing) the fact that Ireland without abortion is one of the safest countries in the world for pregnant women.” Ireland’s maternal mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world.

Trevor Hayes, an Irish OB/GYN who has received multiple awards for medical excellence, said last week that he has “never been prevented by the Eighth Amendment from doing everything necessary to fully care for women and to fully protect them in my practice” at any point during his 20-year career.

To argue otherwise, repeal supporters have invoked the 2012 case of Savita Halappanavar, who died after 17 weeks of pregnancy. Pro-abortion activists around the world claimed at the time that doctors’ refusal to abort caused her death, but as Jonathon Van Maren wrote earlier this week for LifeSiteNews, “All three official investigations into Halappanavar’s death found that she did not die from being refused an abortion – a fact that doctors confirmed. Rather, she died from sepsis (blood poisoning), and medical professionals apparently missed at least 13 separate opportunities to save her life.”

Outrage aside, Cullen also saw a silver lining to the Taoiseach’s statements.

“It’s clear that some members of government are starting to panic over the fact that the ‘No’ side might win and these same members of government seem prepared to say almost anything take away the right to life from unborn babies,” she said.

Polls show narrow support for repeal but have been steadily dropping, and pro-lifers are hopeful that, as more voters are educated about the extent of the government’s legalization plan, support will flip in time for next Friday’s vote.