Fatally flawed legislation will not put abortion to bed
Analysis: We are now dependent on the courage of individuals to rail against abortion Bill
With autocratic stubbornness, Enda Kenny has declared that he is right, and everyone shouting stop is wrong. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Through a combination of bullying and cajoling, Enda Kenny is attempting to control members of his party who are wavering on the abortion Bill. Witness the metaphorical row of heads on pikes within hours of four members of the party voting against the Bill.
Enda knows that far, far more parliamentary party members would defect if they felt that the consequences would only be a six-month spell in the wilderness.
His message is clear: unlike, say, conscientious objections to hare coursing, conscientious objections to abortion are to be treated as the worst kind of rebellion and to be put down forthwith. His other tactic is the wheedling attempt to persuade parliamentary party members who are deeply uneasy about this legislation, that it is merely codifying existing law, and in fact, inserting new restrictions.
This Bill will not “tidy up” or “regulate” or “put abortion to bed as an issue for decades”. It will not go away, you know.
This legislation is as restrictive as the two most pro-choice psychiatrists you can think of. Think, perhaps, of the kind of person who blithely declares that there is no problem certifying minors as suitable candidates for abortion – because if the teenagers decide it is best for them, then that is all that is necessary.
Minister for Health James Reilly admitted at committee stage that suicide is a huge problem in Irish society, “albeit one that is quite rare in pregnancy, and also one that is extremely difficult to assess. We do not have any biochemical markers and we have very little clinical research that is based on objectivity. There is a lot of research around the subject, but to say that it is absolutely hard evidence is difficult”.
Given the inherently subjective nature of suicide risk assessment, any abortion on this grounds could be justified as being “in good faith”. It is extraordinary that although statistics will be compiled on abortions, there is no in-depth monitoring mechanism either before or after to assess whether everything possible to preserve the life of the unborn was done.
The only time alarm bells will ring is if large numbers of abortions begin to take place. By that stage, there will be many babies who have been irrevocably deprived of their right to life.
I repeat, bring to mind the two most pro-choice psychiatrists you can think of, and that is how restrictive this law will be. Not to mention the much-vaunted provision that a baby can be delivered prematurely, but cannot be killed after viability.
This is presented as an appealing facet of the Bill, a “protection” for the unborn, instead of the truly monstrous proposal that it is. In a couple of decades, there will be young adults appearing before tribunals, passionately demanding to know why they, as perfectly healthy unborn children, were singled out for deliberate premature delivery, and left blind, disabled or suffering from cerebral palsy? All in the complete absence of any demonstrable benefit to their mothers.
‘Hierarchy of human beings’
As for those delivered before viability on suicide grounds, this Bill will, as Lucinda Creighton said in her articulate and inspiring speech, “enshrine in Irish law, for the first time ever, and in contravention of our express constitutional obligations, a hierarchy of human beings in this State, one which says that we can select who deserves to live and who does not”.