In Ireland, the political fight over abortion rages on | Michael Kelly | Catholic World Report
Proposed legislation would legalize abortion when the mother’s life is at risk. But the measure is medically unnecessary, many Irish doctors say.
Ireland’s coalition government is pushing ahead with controversial plans to legalize abortion despite growing opposition from within the medical community.
Pro-life campaigners have also dismissed claims by Prime Minister Enda Kenny that the draft law is limited in scope, saying it will lead to widespread abortion.
Ireland and Malta are currently the only countries in Europe where abortion is still illegal.
A draft of the so-called Protection of Life in Pregnancy legislation was published after protracted negotiations between the center-right Fine Gael and leftist Labor party. It will now be debated before the parliamentary health committee.
Campaigners are furious because Fine Gael—the senior party in Government—made a promise before the 2011 general election not to legalize abortion. The Labor party, on the other hand, has had a long-standing pro-abortion stance.
The draft law provides for abortion when there is a substantial risk to the life, as opposed to the health, of the mother. This would include situations in which a woman says the continuation of the pregnancy leads to suicidal thoughts. The law would also provide for jail terms of up to 14 years for those performing abortions in circumstances other that permitted by the new law.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny has claimed that the legislation will not change Ireland’s law on abortion in other circumstances. He said that an abortion can only be legally permitted where doctors have unanimously decided that it is the only treatment that will avert a risk to the life of a mother.
However, Caroline Simons, a spokesperson for the Pro-Life Campaign (PLC) dismissed the claims. She says the Government has “been talking up the proposal as very restrictive. But, in reality, these reassuring noises are empty and misleading.”
“What matters is what’s contained in the bill and what’s in the bill is dangerous,” said Simons. “For the first time an Irish Government is proposing to introduce a law that provides for the direct intentional targeting of the life of the unborn child.”
Simons said that “talk of the legislation being ‘life-saving’ is simply dishonest. There is no evidence that abortion ever helps women’s mental health and in fact it may damage women.”
Leading psychiatrists have also dismissed claims that abortion can ever be a treatment for suicidal ideation.