Voters will make their own minds up about this referendum. But before we cast our vote we’re entitled to know what it is exactly that we’re being asked to support, and what it is exactly that this will involve
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Health Simon Harris, and campaigners on the yes side have been doing their level best to hide the real nature of this referendum from voters. The campaign group Together for Yes has even begun claiming that the vote is not about abortion.
The referendum proposal is straightforward: To delete all rights of all children before birth.
The reason we’re being asked to do this is because the Government wants a blank cheque to write whatever abortion law it wants, no matter how extreme.
And Simon Harris has told us precisely the law the Government will table if the referendum is passed – unrestricted abortion throughout the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, abortion up to six months on unspecified grounds of “mental health”, and abortion up to birth on other grounds.
Leaving aside all the spin, this is what we’re being asked to vote on.
Six other European countries have laws like the one the Government is asking us to support, and if our abortion rate matches theirs, our health service will be performing at least 5,300 abortions per year.
In all likelihood the real figure will be much higher. This will utterly change the culture of our health system: In the same hospital efforts will be made to save a baby in trouble at 24 weeks’ gestation while just down the corridor a baby of the same age will be aborted.
According to Harris, these abortions will be taxpayer-funded and place enormous pressure under an already under-resourced health system currently dedicated to saving lives, not ending them.
After almost four weeks of intense debate, involving hundreds of hours of interviews, not one yes campaigner has acknowledged perhaps the most significant fact of this entire debate: The Eighth Amendment helps saves hundreds, if not thousands, of lives each year.
This has been confirmed by independent actuarial analysis, yet abortion supporters place their hands over their ears.
It’s not that they deny this fact, they can’t, they simply ignore it.
What does abortion on demand mean in practice?
British law permits abortion on demand and there one child is aborted for every four who are delivered alive. Children with disabilities are disproportionately vulnerable to being aborted: 90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb are aborted. Free and easy access to abortion normalises abortion:
Almost 40% of abortions are repeat abortions. And despite what Simon Harris tries to suggest, these abortions aren’t all just a matter of taking a pill. Almost 40% are surgical abortions.
We shouldn’t restrict our care and compassion as a society.
Mothers and babies in a crisis pregnancy deserve much more than the Government’s cold and cheap “solution” to unplanned children.
Care and compassion shouldn’t be totally denied to children who by 22 days have a beating heart, by four weeks have a developing brain, by six weeks have arms and legs, by nine weeks have fingernails, and by ten weeks have all their vital organs. It’s telling that abortion campaigners do their very best to avoid engaging with these facts. It’s not that they deny them, they can’t, they simply ignore them.
Unquestionably there are hard cases. But the Government’s referendum is an extreme and unnecessary response.
The Government wants us to vote to ensure that no child in the womb at any stage of pregnancy has a right to be protected from the violence of abortion.
If Harris and his colleagues wanted to deal with limited, rare, hard cases, a whole range of much more restrictive proposals would have sufficed. If the actual referendum proposal passes, however, it will make abortion an unrestricted and common feature of our society, simply a matter of free and easy choice. A passed referendum will also ensure that we never again have a direct say on the matter, and that life and death law-making decisions rest entirely with our politicians.
The World Health Organisation ranks us as the sixth safest country in the world for women to give birth in, and undisputed international data shows that we are significantly safer for women in pregnancy that Britain and the US, both of which have abortion on demand.
Abortion campaigners try to avoid engaging with these facts. It’s not that they deny them, they can’t, they simply ignore them.
We shouldn’t ignore the child in the womb and deny that she is deserving of at least basic legal protection. This referendum is an extreme proposal. To stop abortion on demand we have only one option onFriday and that is to vote no.