Key errors of crusade against abortion
People are perfectly entitled to such religious beliefs but they make little sense in either medicine or law. In those fields, which are the only relevant ones, people are assumed to be responsible for all the foreseeable consequences of their actions, direct and indirect. Those consequences may well be justified but the idea that they are irrelevant accidents is sophistry that cannot be put into law. It is noteworthy that the Medical Council guidelines initially included a “direct and intentional” clause but dropped it in 2009, presumably recognising that it is not a scientific medical concept.
4. Opposition to abortion legislation is “in keeping with the wishes of the public”.
This claim is based on a single poll conducted by Milward Brown for the Pro-Life Campaign in 2010. It found 67 per cent support for “constitutional protection for the unborn that prohibits abortion”. But the question was highly qualified by the addition of the phrase “but allows the continuation of the existing practice of intervention to save a mother’s life in accordance with Irish medical ethics”.
This states an opinion as fact – the whole point of the argument is whether existing practice actually does save the mother’s life. A succession of other polls has found that a clear majority favours the legalisation of abortion in certain circumstances. More importantly, two referendums to roll back the X case judgment have failed.
In both cases, voters were explicitly told that if they did not support these proposals the government would legislate for abortion.
5. The European Court of Human Rights ruling in the ABC case does not require Ireland to legislate on abortion.
The ECHR held that there was no accessible and effective procedure to enable C to establish whether she qualified for a termination of pregnancy in accordance with Irish law, and that this is a breach of the convention by which Ireland is bound.
It found that the existing 1861 law is a “significant chilling factor for both women and doctors” in the implementation of a constitutional right. At the very least, Ireland is obliged to legislate to change the 1861 Act. Even statutory regulations would require enabling legislation. There is simply no basis for the claim that the ECHR ruling can be complied with without legislation of some kind.