Though polling data and massive public rallies show the Irish people are opposed, the Ireland Parliament today voted to legalize some abortions on a 127-31 vote. Abortions would be allowed in cases when pregnant women may commit suicide, even though studies show abortion increases suicide risk for women.
The Pro Life Campaign said it is disappointed with the vote but was not surprised by the outcome after the Second Stage vote on abortion in the Dáil resulted in a 138-24 vote.
Four Fine Gael TDs voted against the bill in second reading and were subsequently booted form the party.
While the outcome was expected given Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s lopsided parliamentary majority, the debate revealed deep-seated fears that Ireland’s first legislative step on abortion could put the predominantly Catholic country on a slippery slope to granting wider abortion rights in years to come.
Divisions ran deepest on the bill’s rule permitting an abortion for a suicidal woman if a three-doctor panel agrees she would try to kill herself if denied a termination.
After the second reading vote, pro-life groups countered with a massive rally to show Parliament the Irish people do not want the bill.
“Some 60,000 people marched from Parnell Sqaure to Dåil Eireann to send a strong message to Enda Kenny and the Irish Government that we the people do not want abortion and want our right to vote on this crucial issue,” the Pro Life Campaign said about the event.
Caroline Simons, Legal Consultant to the Pro Life Campaign who also spoke at the Rally, said ‘The event today again demonstrates the strength of opposition to this flawed legislation. It is time for the Government to step back and consider what other issue has tens of thousands of people repeatedly willing to come out on the streets to express their views. The people of Ireland don’t want to see abortion in our hospitals, they want women and their unborn children to enjoy the full protection of our laws. It’s time for the Government to scrap this unjust Bill.”
“Let those Senators and TDs use the power granted to them under article 27 of our constitution to let the people speak on this bill,” Declan Ganley told the crowd to sustained applause. “Let us vote. Let us pass judgement on Enda Kenny’s abortion bill in a referendum. He says his book is the constitution. Well use it, Taoiseach. He says he trusts the people. Well prove it, Taoiseach. He says this is a matter of grave concern to the public. Well ask them, Taoiseach. ”
Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute added that: “If you refuse, Taoiseach, to let the people vote, then the people will be heard. 100,000 people have already signed the pro-life pledge, 100,000 will seek to build a new political alternative, 100,000 will remember Taoiseach, that if you ram through this law, you are the abortion Taoiseach and Fine Gael is the abortion party, and they will seek an alternative which protects both mother and baby. ”
Fr. Shenan Boquet of Human Life Intentional complained that the abortion bill is being pushed by politicians who promised not to do what they are now doing and said the bill is wrongly being sold as necessary to save the lives of pregnant women who are suicidal, even though so far none of the psychiatrists called to testify at the Irish hearings can say under oath that abortion was needed to save the life of a suicidal woman.
He said many studies have shown that women who have had abortions are much more likely to commit suicide than women who have not had them.
Priscilla Coleman, an American professor and researcher, says “Overall, women with an abortion history experience an 81% increased risk for mental health problems. The results showed that the level of increased risk associated with abortion varies from 34% to 230% depending on the nature of the outcome. Separate effects were calculated based on the type of mental health outcome with the results revealing the following: the increased risk for anxiety disorders was 34%; for depression it was 37%; for alcohol use/abuse it was 110%, for marijuana use/abuse it was 220%, and for suicide behaviors it was 155%.”
Boquet responds: “So the proposed bill, called the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill, isn’t actually designed to protect a single life during pregnancy. It is designed to destroy life. As some Irish politicians who support the bill have admitted, it is only intended as the opening to abortion on demand. This is obvious, of course, but still it helps when pro-abortion pols admit it. It is possible that all a woman will have to do if this bill becomes law is claim – after being coached by counselors or nursing staff on what to say — that she is considering suicide, and she can therefore bypass all restrictions on abortion, at any point in her pregnancy.”
“All this, supposedly to protect the lives of pregnant women, in a nation whose maternal mortality rates are among the very lowest–that is, the best — in the world,” he noted. “These people think that abortion, despite truckloads of evidence to the contrary, is a boon for women’s health, and that it is a human right.”
A recent Amárach opinion poll has revealed that a clear majority of people are opposed to abortion as a response to a suicide threat.
The poll, commissioned by the Pro Life Campaign, asked respondents to scale their support or opposition to abortion “if it were clearly shown that abortion is not a suitable treatment for a pregnant woman with suicidal feelings”. Of those who expressed an opinion, 60% said they would be ‘very unlikely’ or ‘unlikely’ to support abortion on such grounds. Just 40% of respondents said they would be ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ to support abortion in those cases.
There have been numerous studies that found an association between abortion and suicide. Other studies have found a link between abortion and depression (which is a major risk factor for suicide). For example:
A 1995 study by A.C. Gilchrist in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that in women with no history of psychiatric illness, the rate of deliberate self-harm was 70 percent higher after abortion than after childbirth.
A 1996 study in Finland by pro-choice researcher Mika Gissler in the British Medical Journal found that the suicide rate was nearly six times greater among women who aborted than among women who gave birth.
A 2002 record-linkage study of California Medicaid patients in the Southern Medical Journal, which controlled for prior mental illness, found that suicide risk was 154 percent higher among women who aborted than among those who delivered.
A March 2004 report from the U.S. National Institutes of Health revealed that suicide is now the third leading cause of death among America’s young people. In fact, for teen girls and young women, the suicide rate has tripled over the past 25 years.