Ireland Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Protecting Unborn Children
by Steven Ertelt
June 9, 2010
Dublin, Ireland (LifeNews.com) — A new poll commissioned that surveys voters in Ireland following last year’s Supreme Court decision finds a substantial majority favors a law that would protect human embryos from deliberate destruction either by experimentation or by methods of assisted human reproduction.
Last December, the Ireland Supreme Court ruled that human embryos — unborn children just days after conception — are not persons.
The ruling came in a case involving a woman who wanted to implant the embryos and give birth to the children despite the wishes of her estranged husband.
Mary and Thomas Roche underwent in-vitro fertilization treatment in 2001 and the couple originally went to court in 2006 to decide the fate of the embryos, unique unborn children, who are stored in a fertility clinic in Rathgar.
The Supreme Court eventually ruled that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution does not afford protection to the human embryo prior to implantation.
The Millward Brown Lansdowne firm carried out a survey of 950 residents in January and February, though the results are only coming available now.
The question read: In a recent Supreme Court decision, the judges said that human embryos are not protected by the Constitution but deserve respect and their protection is a matter for the Government. Do you think the Government should legislate, or not, to protect human embryos from deliberate destruction either by experimentation or by methods of assisted human reproduction that destroy embryos?
The finding shows that 59% support legal protection for the human embryo, 12% oppose it and 29% don’t know or have no opinion.
When those who don’t know or have no opinion are excluded, 83% of those who expressed an opinion support introducing legislation to protect the human embryo while 17% are opposed to such a law.
Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro-Life Campaign, which commissioned the poll, responded to it in comments to LifeNews.com.
"These findings clearly show that a sizable majority of the public supports legal protection of human life at its earliest and most vulnerable stage of development," she said.
"However, the Pro-Life Campaign is extremely concerned that the Government intends pressing ahead with legislation based on the totally unrepresentative report from the government appointed Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction, which voted 24 to 1 in favor of destructive research on living human embryos," Cullen said.
Minister for Health Mary Harney has stated publicly that the government intends bringing forward legislative proposals later this year following on from the Supreme Court decision.
Recently, the Irish Stem Cell Foundation called on the Government to introduce legislation that would permit destructive research on living human embryos.
Cullen added, "The widely supported views of the pro-life side in this debate have been largely ignored to date, which is intolerable. Before any proposed legislation is brought forward, the Government must address this glaringly obvious bias in the consultative process."
"Pro-life supporters are just as anxious as anyone else to see cures for debilitating conditions resulting from cutting edge research. All the breakthroughs we read about in the media are from adult stem cell research, which is perfectly ethical and already showing great scientific promise. Human embryo research on the other hand leads to the destruction of a new human life and so far despite the incredible hype surrounding it has led to no major breakthroughs," Cullen said.
In the case that went before the Supreme Court, the couple had already had children and the mother was left unable to have more after an operation to remove a cyst on her ovary led to the removal of most of that ovary.
After the surgery, the couple underwent in-vitro fertilization and six human embryos were produced in 2002. Three were successfully implanted and she gave birth as a result. The three remaining embryos were at the center of the dispute as Thomas Roche had refused permission for the implantation.
The five judges on the Ireland Supreme Court ruled, despite the clear pro-life protections for unborn children in the nation’s Constitution, that embryos do not enjoy that protection.
Article 40.3.3 of the Ireland Constitution says, "The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother." However, the court ruled the embryos are not "unborn children."
In January 2009, Millward Brown IMS carried out research on a quota controlled sample of 943 people aged over 18. Some 71% of those who expressed an opinion support a law protecting the human embryo and 29% are opposed to it.
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