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Ireland: Bill to Legalize Abortion Advancing

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Editor’s note. “TD” is an abbreviation for someone who is a member of the lower house of the Irish Parliament. Fine Gael, Sinn Féin, and Labour are political parties.

The Irish government released the final text of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 which for the first time would allow the destruction of life through abortion in Ireland. The legislation abandons the pro-life constitution in Ireland, which gives equal protection to the lives of mother and their children, and instead allows abortion for “risk of loss of life of pregnant woman”: “Risk of loss of life from physical illness; Risk of loss of life from physical illness in emergency; Risk of loss of life from suicide.”

The Irish Catholic Bishops Conference has called on priests across the country to read their response to the government’s proposed legislation on abortion at Masses this weekend and invited priests and Catholic faithful to pray the specially designated ‘Choose Life’ prayer at Masses and in homes. The prayer is in the hope that “the dignity and value of all human life will continue to be upheld in Ireland”.

The Bishops’ statement, ‘ A time to uphold the right to life,’ asserts: “The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights; it is the foundation of all other rights. No individual has the right to destroy life and no State has the right to undermine the right to life.”

The statement continues, “Yet the Irish Government is proposing abortion legislation that will fundamentally change the culture of medical practice in Ireland. For the first time legislation will be enacted permitting the deliberate and intentional killing of an unborn child. This represents a radical change. Every citizen, not just people of faith, should be deeply concerned.

“We value the skill and efforts of our doctors, nurses and other care professionals who have helped to earn Ireland’s place as one of the safest countries in the world for mothers and their babies during pregnancy.

“Catholic Church teaching is clear: where a seriously ill pregnant woman needs medical treatment which may put the life of her baby at risk, such treatments are ethically permissible provided every effort is made to save both the mother and her baby.

“This is different from abortion, which is the direct and intentional taking of the innocent life of the unborn. No matter what legislation is passed in any country, abortion is, and always will be, gravely wrong.”

Opposition to the legislation includes concern that Catholic hospitals that receive government funding will not be allowed the right of conscience and will be forced to provide abortions. The Iona Institute reports that Health Minister James Reilly stated, “All institutions mentioned (in the Bill) are funded by the taxpayer. We could not have a situation where a service funded by the taxpayer could deprive a citizen of their rights. In those circumstances we see absolutely no indication or room for an institution to have a conscientious objection.”

The government claims that the legislation is mandated by the European Court of Human Rights decision in the “X” case but many protest the government’s interpretation of the decision. Criticism is also directed at its failure to heed the testimony of medical doctors who presented evidence explaining the dangers of abortion to women’s mental and physical health and describing current medical policies that contribute to Ireland’s status as a country with one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.

Caroline Simons, legal advisor to the Pro-Life Campaign in Ireland, explained pro-life opposition to the bill stating,

“Activating the ‘X’ case by legislation will allow, for the first time in our history, the direct intentional targeting of the life of the unborn child. There is no getting away from this awful reality. It is a million miles away from good medicine, from the kind of life-saving intervention which everybody supports.”

“One of the most regrettable features of this debate has been the corruption of language. The Taoiseach [the prime minister of the Republic of Ireland] and Cabinet Ministers, continue–with no hint of shame–to use words like ‘restrictive’ and ‘life-saving’ to describe their plans.

“But these words are meaningless and empty. The only thing that matters is what the law actually permits and what it permits is abortion on wide-ranging grounds.”

“The reality is that two psychiatrists of like mind can sign away an unborn child’s life on grounds that have nothing to do with bona fide medical treatment. There is nothing life-saving, just or restrictive about that. The obstetrician required by law will have no role in certifying the eligibility for such abortions. In reality, it amounts to abortion on request. To state otherwise is dishonest.”

Independent senator Ronan Mullen said the “bill imports potential horrors” because of the suicide ground. Mullen charged that the government had been “dishonest” with the people in “pretending the bill is restrictive and pretending they are somehow legally obliged to do it.”

As PNCI previously reported, an undercover sting revealed comments from Labour Party lawmakers that confirmed fears that voting for the legislation will open the door to abortion on demand. In discussing the legislation, TD Aodhan O Riordain said, “It is a starting point. Once you get that . . . then you can move . . . and of course if I’m on the radio and somebody says to me, ‘It’s a starting point for abortion on demand’, I’m gonna say, ‘No, of course it isn’t – it is what it is.’”

Fine Gael TDs and senators were outraged by the comment from the Labour Party lawmaker and others which confirmed their fears that voting for the legislation will open the door to abortion on demand.

Lawmakers of the Sinn Féin party are being told that they must vote in support of the legislation. Party Leader Gerry Adams said that it would be a serious breach of party rules if any TD voted against the party’s position. During a past discussion, TD Peadar Tóibín said that he could not support the bill and lost his chairmanship of the Oireachtas Investigations Committee as a result.

PNCI expresses its deepest appreciation and admiration to Peadar Tóibín and other parliamentarians who choose to defend the right to life at great personal political cost.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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