The campaign to liberalise abortion took a further step forward today with the first sitting of the Government’s new Committee which is due to look at the recommendations by the recent Citizens’ Assembly.
That Assembly was in no way or unbiased which is all the more shocking given the fact that it focussed on a life-and-death issue like abortion. Instead of hearing the fair case in favour of keeping the Eighth Amendment (Ireland’s last constitutional protection for the unborn child), and then hearing the argument for liberalising our abortion laws, the 99 members of the Assembly were presented with speakers from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the UK’s largest abortion provider, and the Guttmacher Institute, which has strong historic links with Planned Parenthood.
Ireland is coming under sustained pressure to from powerful organisations overseas who want to see abortion introduced here. The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has again described Ireland’s laws as “cruel, inhumane and degrading” in the case of Siobhan Whelan who sought an abortion in Ireland in 2010 following an ultrasound scan at 20 weeks gestation which revealed her baby had a congenital brain malformation.
Once again, the UNHRC is ignoring its remit and acting like the international wing of the Irish abortion lobby. While it is happy to attack Ireland’s pro-life laws every few months, it completely ignores the human rights violations of countries like the UK and Canada where babies routinely survive so-called botched abortions and are simply then left to die. For the UNHRC to act in this way and then lecture Ireland about the removal of the life-saving Eighth Amendment is pure hypocrisy and nothing more.
All too often in the Irish debate we have seen situations like this where groups like the UNHRC act in such a way as to make it clear that they consider unborn babies with a life-limiting condition to be unworthy of the protection of the law that everyone else in Ireland deserves and receives. There is no justification for such discrimination and while groups like Amnesty Ireland have been pushing hard for a change to Ireland’s laws, they are unable to explain why the smallest, most vulnerable members of Irish society should be subjected to the inhumanity of abortion. No-one has a right to make a value judgement on which lives are valuable and which ones are not. Either we protect every human life or we end up protecting none.
This is a very challenging time for all those who want to see every human life protected in Ireland. The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has said that he wants to be the politician who brings forward legislation for the “important referendum” on the Eighth Amendment. This is sad indeed when you consider that he is placing such importance on what is essentially a choice to remove a human right from the Constitution.
The Government Committee must start looking at this issue with a fair an unbalanced eye. It must also consider how it can reassure parents of children with life-limiting conditions that it values their children, and will continue to protect them under the laws of the land. The words of the UNHRC will have done nothing to alleviate the pain and suffering of families who feel that when their child is diagnosed with a serious illness, they immediately lose all worth in the sight of an organisation as powerful as the UNHRC. That is a horrible position to be in, yet it doesn’t seem to concern those who prioritise the legalisation of abortion in Ireland above everything else.
The Chairperson of the Committee has been named today when it met for the first time. As we wait to see how this Committee will act, we can only hope that it will finally start to have the fair discussion that is so badly needed in Ireland – one where the needs of parents and their children are given priority over the demands of international abortion providers, and where the positive influence of the Eighth Amendment is properly examined and acknowledged.