By Nancy Valko
My husband and I just returned from a long-anticipated and wonderful trip to Ireland with our friends, one of whom was born in Ireland to an unwed mother at the infamous Magdalene Laundries and adopted by a St. Louis family when she was 2 1/2 years old.
We traveled all around Ireland and Northern Ireland, enjoying the friendly people, beautiful old churches, stately castles, charming villages and great food.
We were able to see or read some news there but the topics were mainly about the Brexit deal for Ireland to leave the European Union.
Returning home, I was flabbergasted to read about the sudden legalization of abortion on demand in Northern Ireland forced by the UK that occurred October 22 when we were on our trip.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ABORTION IN IRELAND
The United Kingdom legalized abortion with the Abortion Act in 1967, years before the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion in the US. But the Abortion Act was never extended to include Northern Ireland, a part of the UK, which then only allowed abortion for “a severe and long-term physical or mental risk to the woman’s health”.
In 2016, the United Nations tried to pressure Ireland into legalizing abortion on demand and overturn Ireland’s Eighth Amendment that protected both unborn babies and their mothers equally as deserving a right to life. This made Ireland one of the safest places in the world for pregnant mothers and their unborn babies and with one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.
But tragically in May 2018, a voter referendum to legalize abortion in Ireland passed. On January 1, 2019, the law took effect even though 95% of Irish doctors refuse to perform abortions.
And after the Irish voter referendum on abortion passed in May 2018, a poll by Amárach taken in October found that 60% of Irish residents oppose taxpayer-funded abortions, 80% say health care workers should not be forced to carry out abortions against their conscience, 79% favor a woman seeking an abortion being offered the choice of seeing an ultrasound before going through with the abortion and 69% of those surveyed believe doctors should be obliged to give babies that survive the abortion procedure proper medical care rather than leaving the babies to die alone.
But in Northern Ireland, recent rulings in the High Court in Belfast and the Supreme Court in London stated that the abortion situation in Northern Ireland was “incompatible with human rights legislation”. So now, Northern Ireland is being forced to accept abortion up to 24 weeks or beyond if “the mother’s health is threatened or if there is a substantial risk the baby will have serious disabilities.”
But, as happened in Ireland, hundreds of medical professionals-including doctors, nurses and midwives-say they will not participate [https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/northern-ireland-abortion-law-clinics-doctors-healthcare-workers-a9168281.html].
Andrew Cupples, a Northern Irish GP, said that some medical professionals have even said they will walk away from the healthcare service itself if they are forced to participate in abortion services.
Nurses&Midwives4Life Ireland and Doctors For Life Ireland have been especially vocal and active in opposing abortion and those of us in the National Association of Pro-life Nurses have been enthusiastically supporting their efforts and encouraging others to do so as well.
My husband and I, as well as our friends, are very proud of our strong Irish heritage and firmly pro-life so this news about Northern Ireland was a blow.
But like the good doctors and nurses of Ireland, we will never give up.
As the abortion movement grows ever more hardened and radical, none of us must give up exposing the terrible truth about abortion as well as showing the life-affirming dedication to caring for both mother and unborn child that truly defines the pro-life movement.