Candelit Vigil for Life outside the Irish embassy – 10 July 2013

Over the weekend my Irish pro-life colleagues thanked those of us in the UK who have been supporting their efforts to keep Ireland one of the safest places in the world for the unborn. All the tweets, blogposts and prayers have really helped to sustain them throughout their campaign; it has apparently been a source of comfort to see people from all over the globe uniting behind Ireland’s pro-life lobby in the face of Enda Kenny’s determination to steamroller abortion on demand into a country that boasts the lowest rates of maternal mortality in the globe.

Tomorrow is an extremely significant day for Ireland with the Dail due to vote on the bill that will introduce abortion up until term for mothers deemed to be suicidal, despite the fact that every single medical expert who testified to the Oireachtas committee stated that abortion is never an appropriate treatment for suicidality. The Irish government is acting purely on the basis of ideology and against all medical evidence and international experience for treating suicide ideation.

Minister of State, Lucinda Creighton has put her political career on the line, by not only proposing a series of amendments designed to adequately assess and treat a pregnant woman presenting as suicidal, but has also pointed out how Enda Kenny has misled Fine Gael voters, as their election manifesto in 2010 did not commit the party or their TDs to the introduction of abortion. If Miss Creighton votes against the bill, alongside 4 other TDs who have already signified their intent, then they will lose the party whip. It is thought that had Enda Kenny allowed a free vote then between 20 and 30 TDs would have voted against the bill, however Kenny is not prepared to risk his party’s political stability, deeming victory more important than the conscience of its TDs who are being forced to break any previous pro-life promises to voters. Any votes in favour will be made out of fear, not conviction.

Those of us who have regarded Ireland’s example as an inspirational model of maternal healthcare have been looking on in despair as a deeply ideological bill which will lead to abortion on demand is imposed upon the country, despite overwhelming public opposition to a liberal abortion regime.

For years the line of argument has been that Irish women seeking abortion are forced to come to England, in a bitter and grim irony the proposed bill will mean that heavily pregnant English women will now be able to travel to Ireland for a late-term abortion if they claim that they are suicidal.

Here’s the words of Dr Bernard Nathanson, one of the foremost pro-abortion activists in the USA, who helped found the National Association for the Repeal of the Abortion Laws, (and later converted to the pro-life cause) on the best mechanism for liberalising abortion law. For anyone following developments in Ireland, from the tragic case of Savita Halappanavar to the hatred shown towards Ireland’s Youth Defence group who have been subject to gross smears and allegations, had their headquarters smeared with human excrement and this morning had their website hacked with details of the names, addresses and phone numbers of their supporters published on line, much to the glee of certain pro-choicers, all of this will seem very familiar:

  • 1. Find a hard case, even if not fully relevant
  • 2. Create fear, doubt and confusion and even grossly exaggerate or lie about the facts
  • 3. Find a convenient, pro-life easy to hate group to demonise or scapegoat
  • 4. Legalise abortion on mental health or suicide grounds

Tomorrow – Wednesday July 10, a silent vigil will be held together with the Good Counsel Network outside the Irish embassy in London, at 17 Grosvenor Place, SW1x 7HR between 4;30 and 7:30pm  (nearest tube Hyde Park corner) in solidarity with Ireland’s pro-life campaign and in prayer for their unborn. This will be a wholly peaceful and prayerful event, attendees are asked only to bring a candle, no placards please. You don’t have to be Irish – anyone can pray for the sanctity of life.

This is to coincide with and add prayers to the vigil that will be being held outside the Dail tomorrow night as the bill is voted upon. Apologies for the late notice, please do your best to either attend or spread the word far and wide and above all pray for Ireland.

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A kick in the teeth

So whilst ordinary lay Catholics are fighting tooth and nail in order to keep abortion out of Ireland, whilst GPs are finding their jobs and families are on the line for speaking their minds, what is happening to that nominal Catholic Enda Kenny? You know the man who closed Ireland’s embassy in the Holy See, who misled the Irish public with regards to the Cloyne Report, pointing the finger solely at the Vatican in a speech loaded with venom and vitriol?

What’s happening to the man who is trying to force priests to legally be compelled to break the seal of confession? Ah yes, that’s right a Catholic University is awarding him an honorary doctorate.

“Prime Minister Kenny is an internationally respected leader with a well-known reputation for promoting human rights and causes of social justice, two issues that resonate with the Boston College community,” said University Spokesman Jack Dunn.

Only if you are born it would seem.

This is the man who pitched up at Knock international airport to unveil a statue of a Catholic Monsignor (Knock being a noted site of holy pilgrimage) on a weekend that saw an influx of Catholic pilgrims praying for the unborn, and responded to threats of excommunication saying ‘I have my own way of speaking to God’.

What in the name of all that’s holy, is this all about? What a kick in the teeth. Disgusted, scandalized, demoralized, doesn’t begin to cover it. Demonic comes somewhere close perhaps.

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.