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Suicide threats no reason to legislate for abortion: former Irish Prime Minister

The idea that “a simple threat of suicide would make right something that would otherwise be wrong is a really dangerous principle,” says John Bruton, Ireland's Prime Minister from 1994 to 1997.
By Hilary White

By Hilary White

DUBLIN, April 30, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The idea that “a simple threat of suicide would make right something that would otherwise be wrong is a really dangerous principle,” a former Irish Prime Minister and leader of the current ruling party Fine Gael said in an op-ed for the Irish Independent on Monday.

“We must think long and hard about where it might lead,” said John Bruton, who served as Prime Minister from 1994 to 1997.

“Allowing medical certificates of suicidal intent to suffice to authorise taking away the otherwise healthy life of an unborn child would also put great stress on the system of medical ethics,” he said. “I know of no other area of law where a threat of suicide is sufficient to make legal what would otherwise be illegal.”

He urged TDs not to hastily change the law, enshrined in the country’s constitution, under “pressure of artificial deadlines.” He warned too of the dangers of granting “this sort of high-level statutory recognition” to people at serious risk of suicide.

The entire question over abortion, he said, “boils down” to whether the unborn child is a separate person with rights of his own, or “just a part of the mother.” But he pointed out that the Irish Constitution has already decided on that issue. The Irish people, when they voted in the 1983 referendum, “formally rejected” the idea that the child was a biological appendage of the mother. Article 40 of the Irish Constitution grants the unborn child an “equal right to life” with the mother.

“This is being forgotten in some recent discussions,” Bruton said. It must be a “fundamental and uncontroversial legal principle” that the unborn child has “separate” legal representation “in any process that might suppress her life.”

The findings of a group of leading psychiatrists who testified before the committees that abortion is never a cure for suicidal ideation, “shows how impractical and mistaken was the original Supreme Court majority decision in the X Case.”

Meanwhile, at opposition party Fianna Fáil’s annual meeting, the party re-affirmed its opposition to legalising abortion. The party voted against “any legislation which has the potential to be significantly expanded beyond the limited circumstances where an intervention is required to protect mothers.”

Delegates also opposed an introduction of legislation that would introduce the “risk of suicide as a threat to life of the mother and legitimises abortion in Ireland.” And they backed the resolution which “reaffirms Fianna Fáil’s position as a pro-life party,” the Irish Times reports.

The motions were carried with overwhelming support with only one delegate speaking against them and only a handful opposing in the vote. One delegate, Lorcan Price, accused the coalition Fine Gael and Labour government of being “disingenuous” and “deceitful” for bringing legislation forward to allow abortion in cases of threats of suicide. He also referenced evidence given by psychiatrists to the committee hearings that abortion is never a treatment for suicidal ideation.

In related news, Labour TD Anne Ferris again admitted to an interviewer that the current legislation is only the first step towards a totally liberalised abortion regime in the British model.

“It’s like taking baby steps. You know, this is the first thing we’re going to get in,” she told the Irish Independent. “People hate change in any form, but we get the first part done and then we will go on to the next bit. And we will. We will do it.

“I made it quite clear to our leadership that if we don’t even get the first part done in this term – in this five-year term, we've four years left – I will leave the Labour Party.”


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