Before Christmas LifeSiteNews carried the story that the Irish Republic had announced “legislation would be brought forward to “clarify” under what circumstances abortion is allowed under Irish law. James Reilly, the Irish health minister, stated “We will clarify in legislation and regulation what is available by way of treatment to a woman when a pregnancy gives rise to a threat to a woman’s life. We will also clarify what is legal for the professionals who must provide that care while at the same time taking full account of the equal right to life of the unborn child. He added, “The legislation will be drafted in accordance with the 20-year-old Supreme Court ruling on the X case, which allows for abortion when a woman’s life is in danger – including the threat of suicide.”
It is this last phrase “the threat of suicide” which is giving rise to the greatest unease among Irish pro-life groups. It would leave the way open for a lax interpretation and thus widespread and routine abuse – as happened in the UK with the Abortion Act of 1967. This allowed abortions up to 24 weeks if two doctors decided “that the risk to a woman’s physical or mental health…would be greater if she continues with the pregnancy than if she ends it.” In addition, the Act decided there would be no time limit on abortion where two doctors agree that a woman’s health or life “is gravely threatened by continuing with the pregnancy or that the foetus is likely to be born with severe physical or mental abnormalities.”
The Irish Republic’s announcement was immediately followed by a statement from the four Catholic archbishops of Ireland, who pointed out that “if what is proposed were to become law, the careful balance between the equal right to life of a mother and her unborn child in current law and medical practice in Ireland would be fundamentally changed. It would pave the way for the direct and intentional killing of unborn children.”
Now LifeSiteNews reports that a group of medical experts has told the Irish government this week that “saving a mother’s life never requires the direct and intentional killing of her unborn child.” The group also commented that suicide in pregnancy was “extremely rare” and that to legislate for abortion under such circumstances would not help any Irish woman. The experts add that in their experience during the last 20 years, “Not one woman had committed suicide…because they could not obtain an abortion.”
The Irish Republic is at a crossroads: will it continue to defend the “equal right to life” of both mother and unborn child as stated by James Reilly, or will it slide gradually towards the position of “abortion on demand”, made on the vague grounds of maternal mental distress. As the Youth Defence spokeswoman, Clare Molloy, stated, “It’s clear that legislating for abortion on the grounds of suicide would open the floodgates and usher in a liberal abortion regime, such as was seen in Britain. That’s not what the Irish people want.” Let’s hope the people make this loud and clear to their politicians.