DUBLIN, August 1, 2012 ( – Pro-life advocates in Ireland fear that the furor in Parliament over the possibility of legislation legalising abortion will result in efforts to bring abortion legalization in through “stealth” tactics, out of the public eye.

Reports have come out that significant numbers of Deputies from all parties will refuse to support any attempt to overturn Ireland’s constitutional protections for the unborn, and party leaders fear a revolt.

But according to the Irish Independent, some in the Dáil believe that the Health Minister, Dr. James Reilly, realizing that attempts to legalize abortion outright will fail due to the power of “the God squad in the Fine Gael party,” will attempt to effectively legalize abortion by simply introducing “regulations setting out in what circumstances abortions are allowed.”

The Independent’s political correspondent Fionnan Sheahan quotes an unnamed minister who said, “It’ll be regulation. People are putting up a fight about something that mightn’t ever happen.”

The Independent reports another TD saying, “You only legislate for things when necessary. The nub of it is there is no compulsion to legislate on the basis of a judgment from the European Court of Human Rights.”


Pro-life leaders, however, say that should the government take this path, they will be in for a fight. Niamh Ui Bhriain, head of the Life Institute, told, “This may be something that more liberal members of the government might look at, or that the expert group might include in their recommendations, but I think they would have difficulties proceeding this way, particularly given the legal and Constitutional requirements.”

She added, “Attempts to ‘legalise by regulating’ have already failed in the north of Ireland.”

The two leading pro-life groups in Ireland, Youth Defence and the Life Institute, are working to raise public pressure against any attempts to bring abortion into the country by whatever method. And the pressure is being felt in the House, with the Sunday Times reporting that Fine Gael politicians are getting at least ten phone calls a day opposing abortion. Multiply this by the number of Fine Gael representatives and tens of thousands are calling on the issue.

“I don’t think the government can ignore the growing public opposition to any moves to legalise abortion, and would be very foolish to try any ‘back-door’ attempt on this hugely contentious issue,” Ui Bhriain added.

Pat Buckley, the Dublin representative for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children to the European Union, told that the proposal shows “contempt for unborn life and constitutes a declaration of war on the most vulnerable in our society” from some in government.

“If the Minister or any member of his party think they can circumvent the significant opposition to abortion in Ireland by the issuance of regulations they are very much mistaken,” Buckley said.

Buckley wrote on the blog of the European Pro-Life Network, “If the Government believe that this is a political solution that will allow them to wash their hands of the problem without appearing to take a stance they must once again be reminded of those pre-election promises they made and that the people of Ireland are not interested in the semantics but the result.”

The situation is being closely watched on the other side of the border. Northern Ireland is also abortion-free, but is under constant threat from abortion advocates in Westminster who have repeatedly attempted exactly the same regulation strategy several times.

Liam Gibson, SPUC’s man in Belfast, told LSN, “Attempts to expand access to abortion through regulation has been a common tactic of the abortion lobby internationally since it changes the public’s perception of abortion from a criminal offence to a medical procedure.”

This was the point, he said, when Westminster-based abortion lobbyists demanded official medical practice guidance on Northern Ireland’s abortion laws. Gibson said that the “radical expansion” of abortion in Northern Ireland was narrowly averted, but only because SPUC had brought a judicial review in 2009 which made clear abortion was “presumptively illegal.” 

“The problem for abortion advocates in the Irish Republic who want to use the same strategy is that there is even less legitimacy in seeking to regulate abortion than there is in legislating for it.”

Gibson said that under the law in Ireland, abortion is not “healthcare but a criminal offence,” which means that all guidance must reflect this legal reality. Interventions which could result in the death of an unborn child are unlawful unless a doctor forms the “requisite clinical judgment” that such a procedure is the only means by which the death of a pregnant woman can be avoided. And no action may be taken with the direct intention of killing the child.

“It is simply absurd,” he said, “for the Irish government to even consider introducing regulations on abortion.

“It may as well seek to regulate child abuse or domestic violence. Killing children before they are born is never medically justified so the Irish people need to reaffirm the criminal nature of abortion.”

Meanwhile, the county government of Donegal in the northern, Border Region of the Irish Republic, has rejected any thought of legalizing abortion. Councilors passed a motion, 17 votes to 1 with 6 abstaining, saying, “In keeping with the will of the Irish people as emphatically expressed in the 1983 referendum Donegal County Council opposes any form of legalisation of abortion in any circumstances.”