Abortion legislation is enough to make you weep for this benighted little country
Column: In what other instance would the Government consider killing another human being because a mother is in distress?
Participants in an anti-abortion demonstration in Dublin in January. Photograph: Alan Betson
The sheer heartlessness of the proposed abortion legislation was exposed this week on RTÉ radio.
Broadcaster Pat Kenny asked Minister for Health James Reilly a reasonable question. Under this legislation, it would be possible for a suicidal mother’s baby to be delivered at say, 30 weeks. What if the baby suffered disability or harm as a result? Would the doctors be liable? And who would take care of the unwanted, possibly disabled baby?
James Reilly answered: “If it were to happen there’s two things to point out: there’s no right conferred on the woman to end the life of the foetus, there’s only a right to end her pregnancy if it’s a risk to her life. That’s the first point there and the second point is then what happens to that child?
“Well, just that any child that is born that is not wanted by a parent or parents, it (sic) is brought into care and the system and the State will care for that child, and there’ll be no question – ’cause you raised that question too – of any liability on behalf of the doctors.”
It is beyond belief that a medical doctor could seriously endorse this after a constitutional amendment enshrining the best interests of the child.
How can unnecessary premature delivery, with all the attendant risks, including a risk of death, of cerebral palsy or intellectual disability even be contemplated?
Not to mention submitting the unfortunate baby to the tender mercies of the State, with its appalling record of looking after children in care.
Reilly also appears sanguine about inducing a baby at 22 weeks, and expending massive resources on keeping her alive, in the full knowledge that she will most likely die. Or worse, a baby can be killed long before that.
“Are we really so shallow, so fickle, as to let our view on moral worth be determined by appearance? The heart that can be seen beating on an ultrasound scan at six weeks is as much a human heart as the one that beats five months later.”
Written by a dedicated pro-lifer? No, it was Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS, the biggest independent abortion provider in Britain. She was arguing in favour of late abortions, on the grounds that there was no fundamental difference between a six-week-old foetus and a 38-week-old foetus. Unfortunately for her, it is also an excellent argument against having any abortion at all.
As for James Reilly’s blithe assumption that liability will not arise, it rivals the deluded belief that we could go on getting richer and richer by selling our houses to each other at spiralling prices.
What about this scenario? A woman in distress is granted an abortion. Initially, she feels relief, but as the months go by, the irrevocable reality of what has been done hits her. She dies by suicide, and the distraught family sues the State, because instead of the normal care she would have received had she not been pregnant, which might have been life-saving, she was given an abortion.
Or her baby is delivered while still extremely premature, is left blind and intellectually disabled, and the father who has been excluded from all decision-making sues the State on behalf of his daughter. The usual Irish answer of, “Ah, sure, it will never happen,” is grotesquely inadequate and dangerous.
The first test case after the X case was Miss C, who was certified as suicidal and that only an abortion could save her life. The State paid for her British abortion. She became acutely suicidal after the abortion and was hospitalised for months. Thankfully, she is still alive, but her most bitter regret is that her daughter was killed in an abortion clinic.
In what other instance would the Government seriously consider killing or endangering another human being because a mother is in profound distress?
All of this, in the full knowledge, reinforced again and again, that there is not a shred of evidence that abortion is an intervention that reduces death by suicide. But that message has been drowned out, because we have grown deeply intolerant of contrarian voices.
So when 113 psychiatrists declare that the new legislation will result in doctors being “called upon to participate in a process that is not evidence-based and we do not believe that this should be asked of the profession”, it is virtually ignored.
Note, they were not asked whether they agreed or disagreed with abortion in itself, but with the statement that “an abortion should form part of the treatment for suicidal ideation has no basis in the medical evidence available”. Some were probably pro-choice, but intellectually honest.
Despite the fact that abortion is in itself a risk factor for mental illness in vulnerable women, despite the fact that the legislation allows for wildly premature babies to be delivered and pre-viability babies to be killed, the Government went ahead.
It is enough to make you weep for this benighted little country, that never seems to learn from the past but once again is willing to make children suffer and even die.