Last week the Oireachtas debate on the future of the Eighth Amendment was launched. Simon Harris, Minister for Health, opened the debate, dramatically presenting it as a moment future generations would look back on with great appreciation.
Minister Harris’ speech was alarming, almost as much for what he failed to mention as for what he did say.
For example, in his speech he listed, county by county, the number of women who travelled to UK to have an abortion in 2016. He remembered with sympathy the victims of rape and incest, and the families faced with so-called “fatal foetal abnormalities.”
Unlike the minister, a pro-life TD, Eamon Scanlon, expressed compassion for the children of those 3,265 women who went to UK for an abortion – children who didn’t come back – and noted that many of these women regretted ending their pregnancies, and were harmed by abortion.
Minister Harris, along with others who favour abolishing the Eighth Amendment, presents the case as if abortion were the optimal solution for a crisis pregnancy, or even the only solution.
Pro-life campaigners in Ireland and elsewhere have dedicated decades to correcting the record on this misrepresentation of reality.
Although the minister did claim to be “fully committed to ensuring that all women accessing maternity services should receive the same standard of safe, high quality care,” he failed to even give lip service to the possibility that abortion would be less than a perfect answer to an unwanted or crisis pregnancy.
From time to time one hears pro-abortion advocates lament the necessity (as they see it) of abortion, regret the number of abortions carried out, or are honest enough to admit that abortion is not an ideal in itself. For example, a recent headline on the pro-repeal site, her.ie, proclaims:
“In an ideal world, abortion would be legalised but nobody would access it”
Meanwhile, at the Oireachtas Committee, Dr Anthony McCarthy, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist for the National Maternity Hospital, stated: “Abortion… in an ideal world it would never be needed or requested.” (http://www.thejournal.ie/eighth-amendment-committee-5-3685935-Nov2017/ )
But neither our Minister for Health nor, as far as we are aware, any other member of the Oireachtas promoting repeal of the Eighth Amendment, expressed regret about the supposed necessity of abortion, nor about the great number of abortions carried out.
Nor do they admit that abortion is not an ideal solution.
They gave no indication of being open to alternatives to abortion when dealing with a crisis pregnancy.
Notably, no extra resources were allocated to address the reasons women seek abortions and thus lessen the number of abortions sought. No pledge given to provide the support that a mother in a crisis pregnancy will need after her child is born.
At least, such resources and support would reduce the number of abortions, if that is something of interest to the government. It should be – unless liberalising abortion laws is an end in itself.
Referring to foetal anomalies using the propagandistic and non-medical term, “fatal foetal abnormalities,” our health minister seems to forget or ignore the fact that an unborn child with a life limiting condition is a patient, not a tumour. In what society… in what medical system, does killing the patient cure illness?
It chills the soul to think where we will end up if we start down such a path.
An unborn child, whether healthy or sick, planned or unplanned, is a human being. Let us not subject his or her right to life to a vote.