The latest attack on unborn children in Ireland comes today when politician Mick Wallace brings a Private Members’ Bill before the Irish Parliament which would allow for abortion in the case of babies who are diagnosed with life-limiting conditions.
The Bill has caused some degree of discussion in Ireland, not least because the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has already received advice from the Attorney General to the effect that the Bill is unconstitutional because it targets the right to life of unborn children as protected in Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution.
That said, the Bill is still going ahead for a vote in the Irish Parliament and so Irish pro-life campaigners are working hard to highlight the humanity of all babies in the womb, healthy and sick.
To date, this side of the debate has received far too little coverage in the Irish media. Most people aren’t even aware that the term “fatal foetal abnormality” is not a medical term in general use because there is no way to predict with absolute certainty that a baby will not live outside the womb. Misdiagnosis happens. Families who are given a challenging diagnosis are very often pressured into considering abortion. Some even report that the pressure become so serious that they grew to dread their medical appointments during their pregnancies.
But their stories are not being heard in Ireland at the moment. It’s highly unlike that they will be heard tomorrow from those politicians who are trying to have this Bill passed. Instead, they will focus solely on the need to introduce abortion.
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There will most likely be little talk too of the need for better perinatal palliative care in Ireland. It remains a scandal that some families travel abroad for abortions in these circumstances, only to return home and discover that perinatal palliative care was an option. Pro-life campaigners consistently make the point that the time and focus that some politicians spend on trying to introduce abortion would be far better spent on improving perinatal palliative care and working towards making Ireland an international centre of excellence in this area.
Improvements in this area will not form part of the Bill to be discussed tomorrow. Instead, its whole intention is to single out a particular category of human beings as unworthy of any legal protections. It will try to place the rights of the unborn baby at zero and in doing so opens up the spectrum for the rights of other human beings to be targeted as well.
Pro-choice campaigners who support this Bill continue to ignore this fact. They deny the fact that a baby with a life-limiting condition needs more medical care and legal protection, not less. Abortion in these cases is the ultimate discrimination against the most vulnerable in Irish society, a type of discrimination which is helped by the use of dehumanising terms like “incompatible with life”, “corpses” and “lives not worth living”. This is no way to talk about precious children who are seriously ill and in need to care.
Abortion is a final, irrevocable act. Ireland has the advantage of being able to see the horrific human rights abuses that have occurred in other countries where it has been introduced. It is now vital that tomorrow’s Bill is defeated in the Irish Parliament so that all families are given the protection they need and their babies are assured of the highest level of legal protection and specialised medical care.