Ireland Expert Report Could Open Door to Abortion Until Birth

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 27, 2012   |   4:30PM   |   Dublin, Ireland

Two pro-life groups have responded today to the new expert report released in response to the death of a woman who died during pregnancy. The report published today by Ireland’s Expert Group on abortion would both open the door to abortions and would not protecting pregnant women.

“The events of recent weeks have brought home to us all that, regardless of where one stands on the issue of abortion, everyone is in agreement that women in pregnancy should continue to receive all necessary medical treatment. Where there is disagreement is that some are using the occasion to campaign for an abortion regime in Ireland,” Caroline Simons, Legal Consultant to the Pro Life Campaign, told LifeNews today.

“None of the options in the Expert Group’s Report explicitly sets out a particular way of safeguarding the lives of both mother and baby in pregnancy,” she said. “This was apparently on the basis that the Group interpreted its terms of reference as requiring it to advise “on how to give effect to existing constitutional provisions.” It is clear from the term of reference No 3 that no such limitation in fact applied to the Group. The Chairman in his Preface states ”it is absolutely not our business to decide political controversies.” This is correct, because it is ultimately a matter for the people whose range of options is not limited to those contained in this report”

Simons says she is concerned that the report will open the door for a reversal of the Supreme Court decision of 1992, which would allow for abortion up to birth.

“What the European Court of Human Rights’ decision in A, B & C v. Ireland requires is not abortion but clarity for women in pregnancy regarding medical treatment needed to safeguard their lives. This clarity can be provided in a number of ways,” she explained. “The simplest way is for there to be an accessible procedure drawn up by the relevant bodies of medical expertise.”

“These guidelines can explain the underlying principles of medical care in Ireland and in particular that women in pregnancy should receive all essential medical treatment needed to safeguard their lives even where this unavoidably results in the death of the baby, but where the duty of care to preserve the life of the baby as far as practicable is also upheld,” she continued. “Opinion polls that distinguish between abortion and essential medical treatment consistently show a substantial majority support such medical treatment but oppose the introduction of induced abortion. The general public gets this distinction, and supports the excellence of Irish medical practice based on it, which has produced Ireland’s world-leading record of safety in protecting the lives of women during pregnancy.”

Simons said the Pro Life Campaign will strongly oppose any attempt to introduce abortion along the lines of the X case ruling.

She said: “The X case is being presented by those who support abortion as very restrictive. The reality is that the X case does not provide for a duty of care to preserve the life of the baby in the course of medical interventions to safeguard the life of the mother. In addition, the X case heard no medical evidence and current medical research, far from confirming that abortion helps women with mental health problems, has failed to find any benefit to women from abortion, and indeed many peer-reviewed studies suggest it exposes significant numbers of women to negative after-effects.”

Simons concluded: “A calm debate is needed, but above all, an honest one, based on an acknowledgement of the equal value of all human lives. We must also face the fact that if Ireland were to go down the road of legalising abortion along the lines of the X case, we will end up with situations like that in England where babies who survive abortion and are able to breathe unaided are left in a corner without any medical care to die of exposure. This horrific reality must form part of the discussion we are having at present on abortion.”

Meanwhile, the Britain-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children is calling for “widespread resistance” to the report published today by Ireland’s Expert Group on abortion. SPUC describes the report’s recommendations as “unconstitutional” and “a door to mass abortion on a British scale.”

John Smeaton, SPUC’s director, commented: “The expert group’s report is based on the erroneous judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the A, B & C case. That judgment not only misrepresented the European Convention on Human Rights, but also failed to respect Ireland’s national sovereignty by unilaterally misinterpreting the Irish Constitution’s protection of the right to life. The case was never about helping women faced with a crisis pregnancy. It was instigated by the international pro-abortion lobby, which has the ultimate aim of forcing governments across the globe to recognise access to abortion as a legal right.”



Smeaton continued: “This report is undemocratic. It fails to suggest as an option consulting the Irish people through a referendum. Conversely, it suggests proposals which the Irish people rejected in the 2002 referendum, namely repealing the ban on abortion in the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. Also, it is an outrageous violation of the consciences of parliamentarians for Enda Kenny to threaten to suspend any Fine Gael TD who will not vote to legislate for abortion. One despairs of politicians like Mr Kenny, who fail to respect basic human rights, such as conscientious objection and the right to life of all members of the human family, including the unborn.”

“Any Irish parliamentarian who votes for this report will be giving-in to unelected judges in Strasbourg who have tried to usurp the Irish people’s constitutional right to decide on abortion. The Irish Supreme Court ruled that the Irish Constitution trumps the European Convention on Human Rights, because the Convention is not part of Irish law and therefore not directly applicable in Irish cases,” he said.