DUBLIN, April 8, 2013 ( – Three motions to ask the government to legalise abortion were rejected in a vote by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) conference on Friday, a move that pro-life advocates say will impact the government’s intentions to legalise abortion in Ireland. The three motions were put before the conference by the pro-abortion campaign group Doctors for Choice, but were rejected by 42 votes to 32. 

Dr. Seán Ó Domhnaill of the Life Institute, a consultant psychiatrist who attended the conference said, “It’s a serious blow to the government’s proposals. As doctors, we are trained to save lives, and most Irish doctors want to continue with the practice of protecting both mother and baby in pregnancy.” 

He added that any proposal to allow abortion in a “limited” way, as the government has said it intends to do, is an automatic opening to escalate to abortion on demand, and “that’s not a model that any doctor should wish to follow.” 


The three motions included a call for legalisation of abortion in cases where there is a “real and substantial risk to the mother,” in cases of pregnancy due to rape or incest and for “non-viable foetal abnormalities.” 

The government has proposed to legalise abortion, contrary to the constitution that protects all human life from conception, claiming that women “denied abortion” would threaten suicide. But the government’s own consultation heard repeatedly that this justification is a fiction created by the abortion lobby to drive a wedge into Ireland’s law. The Dáíl committee heard from medical professionals that in fact the opposite is true, that women are at a higher statistical risk for serious mental illness, including depression and substance abuse, following abortion. 

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Dr. Ó Domhnaill said that the debate at the IMO conference was robust with occasional “sharp exchanges” between delegates. 

“We heard from delegates who knew women who had died by suicide following abortion,” he said. “We heard about families who had been supported in spending precious time with children who were diagnosed with fatal abnormalities. And we heard from doctors whose experience told them that we never need to deliberately end a baby’s life in order to save a mother.” 

Dr. Berry Kiely of the Pro Life Campaign said the motions “would have allowed for abortion in wide-ranging circumstances as there was no duty of care towards the baby mentioned”. 

Abortion lobby campaigners are battling to convince the public that women are under threat from difficult pregnancies because of the law. The push is part of a protracted campaign through the courts to overturn the country’s legal protections for the unborn, a significant victory in which was the decision in the notorious X Case. Sometimes referred to as Ireland’s Roe v. Wade, in that case the Supreme Court ruled in favour of abortion for a young rape victim whom pro-abortion lobbyists asserted was threatening suicide if she could not abort. 

Another twenty years were to pass, however, before the abortion lobby was able to force government action in response to the case following the 2010 decision by the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B and C case. The ECHR ruled that the Irish government had violated women’s “right to privacy” and must issue legislation to clarify under what circumstances exactly abortion could be allowed with regards to the X case. 

After two more years of heavy lobbying, the government, composed of a coalition with the openly pro-abortion Labour Party, brought a bill forward in December last year proposing to “clarify” under what circumstances abortion is allowed under Irish law. 

Dr. Kiely commented on the IMO vote, “Members of the medical profession clearly recognise that the X Case heard no medical evidence and has been overtaken by the peer reviewed evidence which shows that abortion is not a treatment for suicidal feelings. 

“The Government has a responsibility to reflect on today’s vote and the expert medical and psychiatric evidence presented at the recent Oireachtas [parliamentary] hearings showing that abortion is not necessary to save women’s lives.”