Ireland lawmakers rejected a bill Thursday that would have reduced the penalty for killing an unborn child in an abortion to 1 euro (about $1), the Irish Times reports.
Introduced by representative Bríd Smith, the bill failed by a strong majority in a 81-26 vote; 22 legislators abstained, according to the report. Currently, the penalty for an illegal abortion is up to 14 years in prison.
The measure was another attempt by abortion advocates to weaken the country’s pro-life laws. The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution protects unborn babies’ right to life and prohibits abortions except when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. Pro-lifers estimate that the amendment has saved approximately 100,000 unborn babies’ lives from abortion in Ireland.
One lawmaker who supports abortion faced some backlash from abortion activists after abstaining on the bill.
According to the report:
Sinn Féin abstained on the vote, leading to criticism from the Ms Smith, who criticised Sinn Féin at a “Repeal the Eighth” rally outside Leinster House on Wednesday evening.
Sinn Féin responded Thursday, saying that they were “on the same side” as the AAA-PBP [which is pushing to legalize abortion in Ireland].
“That is madness and I can only assume it is done out of selfish party political interests,” the Sinn Féin health spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly said of Ms Smith’s attack on the party for refusing to support her bill.
“The reality is that unless all of the political forces who are campaigning for repeal can work together then this campaign will be lost for another generation.”
Ireland has been facing global pressure from the United Nations and pro-abortion groups, backed by some of the world’s richest men, to legalize abortion on demand by repealing its Eighth Amendment. So far, they have not been successful.
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Irish government leaders have rejected several attempts to legalize abortion or weaken its protections for unborn babies and moms. Talk of repealing the Eighth Amendment continues, however.
This week, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said if a referendum vote on the amendment occurs, it will not happen until at least next year.
Here’s more from the report:
In answer to the Green Party leader Eamon Ryan who sought a detailed timeline of when a referendum on abortion might be held, Ms Fitzgerald said the Citizen’s Assembly would conclude its work on the subject by mid-year and a special Oireachtas committee would then look at the assembly’s recommendations.
That process will not be concluded until the end of the year, which would mean it would be the beginning of 2018 at the earliest before the Government and the Dáil come to make any decision on a referendum to either repeal or replace the eighth amendment.
Pro-life groups recently expressed concern about the Citizen’s Assembly not having a balanced line-up of speakers on deliberations about the Eighth Amendment.
Before deliberations in February, Sinead Slattery of the Pro Life Campaign said:
“It would be unthinkable for the Assembly to conclude its business without devoting several days to hearing the stories of lives saved by the Eighth Amendment – parents who contemplated abortion, changed their minds and who credit the Amendment for their children being alive today. Such stories deserve, but have been denied, prominent airing at the Assembly.”
“Also excluded have been families of children with Downs Syndrome who feel that if they weren’t living in Ireland and under the protection of the Eighth Amendment, their children’s lives would be less valued,” Ms Slattery said.