Irish lessons

I know we should no longer be surprised when it comes to politicians displaying a capacity to lie to and deceive the general public, but the behaviour of two Irish Labour TDs, Aodhan O’Riordain and Anne Ferris really takes the cake.

Today’s Irish Sunday Independent (colloquially known as the Sindo) has run an exclusive splash, revealing that last June, four months before the death of Savita Halappanavar, these two politicians were caught on tape, explicitly outlining their intentions to use the X Case, (where suicide is deemed to be a life-threatening condition and thus a reason to abort) as a ‘starting point’ to introduce liberal abortion laws into the country.

Regardless of whether one takes a pro-life or pro-choice stance, this disingenuous approach is to be condemned. Politicians are elected on the basis that they represent those who vote for them. Aodhan O’Riordian stated that the X Case was a ‘starting point’, however if he were to be asked that question on the radio, his approach would be to lie about it, denying that it was a starting point and stating that ‘it is what it is’.

“It is a starting point. Once you get that . . . then you can move . . . and of course if I’m on the radio and somebody says to me, ‘It’s a starting point for abortion on demand’, I’m gonna say, ‘No, of course it isn’t – it is what it is.'”

Anne Ferris said

We will legislate certainly for what the European Court has told us to and then we can go further than that . . . we get the first part done and then we will go on to the next bit… I would say then next term it will happen.”

The transcript of the conversation also shows Ferris promising to drink a bottle of champagne after this measure is passed. This matters, not simply because of the subject matter, but also because it is a case of blaring political hypocrisy, whereby elected politicians are once again making monkeys of the electorate, lying about their stated intent and who will no doubt later agonise over the general public’s disillusionment with politicians and voter apathy.

Lying is never acceptable, but one’s intentions with regards to abortion, (or reproductive rights if you’re on the other side of the debate) is far too important an issue to lie about to the public. The attitude on display here is nothing short of contemptuous.

When it comes to thinking about the X Case and whether abortion ought to be a remedy for those who may be suicidal, it’s worth remembering that in the case of a person who may be suicidal, this is almost always due to a perfect storm of contributing factors, of which a setback such as a crisis pregnancy provides the tipping point. People who are suicidal or who suffer from severe mental health issues are deemed to be (albeit temporarily) incapable of informed consent in law, wills and other legal contracts are deemed to be invalid, so why, all of a sudden is a threatened suicide deemed to be a valid reason to abort one’s unborn child?

There is no evidence to suggest that abortion is an effective therapy for a psychiatric problem, which needs to be solved by psychiatric means, but there is an substantial body of research suggesting that abortion has a negative impact upon mental health. Suicidal tendencies in themselves should not be confused with a medically life-threatening condition. Whilst suicide is of course life threatening, the desire to end one’s life, is not indicative that a person will necessarily follow through on their thoughts, though they do of course, require urgent help. Abortion circumnavigates the issue, confirms the woman in her despair and is not indicative of the most compassionate and caring approach. What if the woman caught up in the vortex of depression, aborts her baby and later bitterly regrets her decision, realising that her fears about her pregnancy or ability to mother her child were unfounded?

David Fergusson, a pro-choice doctor, who believes that abortion should be available on social or economic grounds, has published a peer-reviewed study in this month’s Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, in which he reviewed the research to ascertain whether or not there were any mental health benefits to abortion. His findings were clear, as Breda O’Brien, is at pains to point out in the Irish Times:

“at the present time there is no credible scientific evidence demonstrating that abortion has mental health benefits.

The evidence will

“resurrect politically uncomfortable and socially divisive debates”. “However, it is our view that the growing evidence suggesting that abortion does not have therapeutic benefits cannot be ignored indefinitely, and it is unacceptable for clinicians to authorise large numbers of abortions on grounds for which there is, currently, no scientific evidence.”

With blatant disregard for scientific evidence as well as the views of the Irish electorate as a whole, a sizeable majority of whom wish to keep Ireland’s current laws protecting the unborn, the Irish Labour party are wishing to push and impose their ideological agenda on an unwilling public. It’s also interesting to note that 66% of voters are concerned about the EU’s potential to intervene in Irish pro-life laws.

As things currently stand, the Irish Supreme Court would be unable to accept any laws or proposals that go further than legislation on the X case, this being against the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution which reads as follows:

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

Any legislation beyond X (and that’s accepting that suicidal people should be able to kill their unborn children to make them feel better) would require a repeal of the Eighth Amendment and a rejection of personhood.

All of which could spell trouble for Ireland’s coalition government led by Enda Kenny, leader of Fine Gael, with Labour’s Eamon Gilmore occupying the Deputy Prime Minister position. Fine Gael explicitly promised voters in 2011 that they would not legislate for abortion and over 40,000 voters have signed a pledge never again to vote for the party if they introduce abortion measures. Worryingly for Enda Kenny, John Bruton, a former Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach is one of those also publicly opposing the coalition’s abortion proposals as are several members of the Fine Gael party. What is telling is that if Ms Ferris is to be believed, the tail is very much wagging the dog, when it comes to Ireland’s coalition government, with Eamon Gilmour, apparently ordering Enda Kenny to whip Fine Gael TDs into line on the issue of abortion. Extraordinary stuff, it’s a bit like Nick Clegg trying to tell David Cameron to whip Tory MPs into line with Lib Dem thinking.

This weekend in the UK has seen the forty-fifth anniversary of the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act, which was sold to the British public on the grounds of compassion and helping women from dying in desperate circumstances. We now see over 200,000 abortions a year, more than 1 in 4 pregnancies are aborted and the numbers of those aborting under grounds F or G (to save the life of the pregnant women or to prevent grave permanent injury) are, in the words of the Department of Health, ‘exceptionally rare’. Grounds A and B that pertain to the risk of death or permanent injury of the pregnant woman account for a tenth of 1% of all abortions.

And yet, Ireland’s politicians perpetuate the myth that this is a necessary piece of legislation in order to further their own totalitarian ideology when it comes to the rights of the unborn. It’s a baffling state of affairs and one in which pro-lifers must do their best to support Ireland, whether that be via prayers or practical action. Ireland is a model of maternal care. It is the gold standard and a torch bearer for Western democracies everywhere. Ireland’s pro-life movement is cohesive, cross-party and pan-theistic, able to mobile huge numbers of people onto the streets to vocalise their support for the unborn. There are many lessons there for the UK, but equally Ireland must look to the UK as an example of how not to do things.

These revelations could be a crucial pivot in Ireland’s battle for life. What an own goal for Irish Labour and those advocating for Action on X.