Irish Coalition Government Divided Over Abortion | Michael Kelly | Catholic World Report
In the wake of the 2010 European Court of Human Rights ruling, Ireland’s government looks to clarify abortion legislation.
When Socialist Party representative Clare Daly stood up in the Irish parliament last week to propose a motion that would legalize abortion in Ireland, there was little reaction. No one seriously expects the legislation to proceed, and when it comes to a vote on April 19 the government is expected to use its majority in parliament to crush the motion. So far only six of 166 legislators have promised they will support the move. But that won’t signal the end of the latest attempt to overturn the country’s ban on abortion. Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus remain the only countries in Europe where abortion is illegal.
Pro-life activists have accused the bill’s supporters of muddying the waters by creating the false impression that are circumstances in which a direct abortion is necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. The preamble to the proposed legislation states that the plan is “to provide for termination of pregnancy where a real and substantial risk to the life of the pregnant woman exists; to make provision for the prevention of any curtailment, hindrance, or preclusion of such treatment that may arise as a result of the pregnancy of the woman; and to provide for related matters.”
However, Dr. Ruth Cullen, a spokeswoman for the Pro-Life Campaign, insists that this description “falsely creates the impression that women in Ireland are being denied necessary medical treatments in pregnancy because of the absence of abortion here.”
“The reality is that Ireland ranks as one of the safest countries in the world for pregnant women, safer than places like Britain or Holland where abortion is available on demand,” said Dr. Cullen.
Obstetricians can be justifiably proud of Ireland’s record on maternal mortality. When six countries (Holland, Germany, Denmark, Slovenia, Norway, and Spain) led a campaign at the United Nations to force Ireland to introduce abortion last year, Caroline Simons—a Dublin-based lawyer—was quick to point out that Ireland has “a much better record of safeguarding the lives of women in pregnancy than any of the six countries that challenged our laws on abortion.”
The latest UN study on maternal mortality, published in 2010, shows that out of 172 countries for which estimates are given, Ireland remains a world leader in safety for pregnant women.