Ireland Parliament Votes to Legalize Abortions Up to 6 Months, Overturn Legal Protections for Unborn Babies

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 13, 2018   |   5:47PM   |   Dublin, Ireland

All protections for unborn babies officially have been stripped away in Ireland after parliament voted Thursday to legalize abortion up to six months of pregnancy.

For decades, Ireland was a strong, pro-life nation that protected every human life from conception to natural death. It also was a strong protector of women, with some of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.

But in May, voters approved repealing the country’s pro-life Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. And pro-abortion politicians began pushing a radical pro-abortion bill to legalize abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks and up to six months in a wide variety of circumstances.

That bill passed its final hurdle in parliament Thursday when the Seanad voted 27-5 in favor, according to the Independent. President Michael D. Higgins is expected to sign the legislation.

After the vote, the Pro Life Campaign said there are “dark days” ahead for Ireland, but it promised to keep working hard to protect unborn babies’ lives.

“The right to life is the most important right of all,” the Irish pro-life group tweeted. “… this fight for human rights has come to a close, but we will not rest.”

Pro-abortion Minister for Health Simon Harris celebrated the vote as “a genuinely historic moment,” while some of the nation’s top medical leaders accused him of ramming through the legislation to protect his “political reputation.”

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Along with legalizing abortion up to six months, the legislation also will force taxpayers to pay for abortions and force Catholic hospitals to provide them. The bill also strictly limits conscience protections for medical professionals, and hundreds of doctors and nurses fear being forced to help abort unborn babies or lose their jobs.

Both the Seanad and Dáil rejected a number of amendments that would have at least moderated the radical pro-abortion bill. TDs rejected an amendment to require parental consent for girls under 16 who want abortions. They also voted against amendments to ban sex-selection abortions and taxpayer-funded abortions and to require basic medical care for infants born alive after botched abortions. Irish Legal reports they also rejected an amendment to provide better conscience protections for doctors.

Harris wants hospitals to begin aborting unborn babies Jan. 1, but his start-date has been met with a strong outcry from the medical community. Many Irish hospitals have said they are nowhere near ready, and forcing them to begin abortions in three weeks could put women’s lives at risk.

However, Harris has refused to back down on his deadline.

Newstalk reports more:

[T]he National Association of GPs claimed the “rushed manner” in which termination of pregnancy services were being introduced was “unacceptable and unsafe”.

It claimed pressure was being placed on frontline staff to get some the service in place by January “to protect the Minister for Health’s political reputation.”

NAGP president Dr Maitiu O’Tuathail said that comments requesting everyone to ‘put their shoulder to the wheel’ are “insulting and very disappointing” for frontline staff. …

“The minister should reflect on his remarks and apologise.”

Last week, Dr. Sharon Sheehan, who runs Coombe Hospital, one of the largest maternity hospitals in Ireland, urged Harris to put off the start date until February or March, RTE reports.

Many other hospitals also have said Jan. 1 is too soon to begin abortions, citing a lack of ultrasound machines, clinical guidelines and trained staff.

Some medical professionals also are afraid for their rights and jobs. Hundreds of Irish doctors, nurses and midwives have pleaded with the government for better conscience protections, but their concerns have been ignored.

Just how many unborn babies may be killed in Ireland annually is uncertain, but about 3,000 Irish women travel to England or Wales every year for abortions, according to government statistics.

The legislation is much more extreme than what voters wanted when they chose to repeal the pro-life Eighth Amendment in May. An October poll by Amárach found that 60 percent of Irish residents oppose taxpayer-funded abortions. In addition, a full 80 percent say health care workers should not be forced to carry out abortions against their conscience.