Fresh from her failure to defend Ireland’s pro-life record in Geneva, the Irish Minister for Justice has once again shown how determined she is to support the new abortion law, no matter what.
In an interview on national radio, Frances Fitzgerald expressed amazement that anyone would oppose the misnamed Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Act 2012, claiming that it was only about protecting women’s lives, and nothing more.
She claimed credit for the current Fine Gael/Labour coalition government in Ireland, insisting that they did what no other government has done in the past by introducing abortion. On this fact of course, she is correct but it is a strange kind of politician who takes pride in this particular piece of legislation – one which legalised abortion for the full nine months of pregnancy on the grounds of a suicide threat.
This is also against a backdrop where there is no medical evidence anywhere in the world to suggest that abortion has a positive effect on women suffering from suicide ideation. There is considerable research to show that abortion has negative mental consequences for women, but Fitzgerald and her government weren’t remotely concerned about that.
The Minister’s words reveal the fundamental dishonesty which lies at the heart of the Irish Government’s approach to abortion. The seven members of Fine Gael who voted against the Act (and were thrown out of the political party as a result) did so precisely because they took heed of the international evidence which showed that abortion can have severe adverse medical side effects for women. They also kept the pre-election commitment made by Fine Gael, when the Party promised voters that they would not introduce abortion. Those politicians sacrificed a lot to keep that commitment but Minister Fitzgerald still feels the need to attack them on spurious grounds.
There is most likely a considerable amount of fear behind her words. It is no secret that the Irish public are hungry for a new kind of politics, one where political promises are not simply made to be broken. Those politicians who left Fine Gael because they believed that keeping their commitment to the public and protecting women’s health are more important than pleasing the Party leadership present the best opportunity for a real political alternative.
By trying to attack their motives on abortion, Minister Fitzgerald has not only shown her continuing willingness to try and mislead the Irish public; she has shown that the current Government leaders know that they have much to fear in the upcoming General Election from those politicians who have proven their worth to the electorate.