Self-styled liberals refuse to recognise the devastating realities of abortion
OPINION:The much-vaunted concern of abortion advocates for women has not been evident
I AGREE with David Robert Grimes’s assertion (Irish Times, June 29th) that no one has the right to their own facts. It is ironic, then, that Grimes proceeded to cherry-pick those facts that best suit his agenda.
He sidesteps the fact that science has clearly shown that human life begins at conception, and that abortion takes the life of an unborn baby. Like many other abortion advocates, he also conveniently disregards the wealth of studies which have shown that women are adversely affected by abortion.
The growing body of peer-reviewed scientific research which shows negative mental outcomes for women following abortion cannot be ignored by any serious commentator or policymaker. It’s revealing that those who claim to see abortion as a woman’s right are also most anxious to downplay or dismiss these findings.
Surely any negative consequences for women should be a matter of concern for all, even if recognising those negative effects undermines support for legalised abortion? Recently a 13-year epidemiological study was published in the European Journal of Public Health. It looked at data between 1987 and 2000 on all deaths among women of reproductive age, and included all women in Finland.
The research found that the suicide rate among women who had abortions was six times higher than that of women who had given birth, and double that of women who had miscarriages.
The findings of the research carried out by Dr David Fergusson and others, and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2008, were equally troubling. They found that women who had abortions were 30 per cent more likely to experience mental disorder.
Fergusson’s research was a particularly robust 30-year longitudinal study with impeccable controls. The results are hugely significant, and there are many other such studies published in leading journals.
In fact, the Irish experience bears out what the growing scientific evidence tells us. Recent research by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency in Ireland showed that 44 per cent of women who had abortions experienced either a lot or some regrets.
Interestingly, Revision Notes in Psychiatry (the most popular textbook among Irish and British psychiatric trainees) informs medical professionals that one in 10 women who aborted suffer “severe and/or prolonged psychological sequelae”, a devastating experience, as any psychiatrist will tell you.
Grimes not only refuses to acknowledge the published research, he also claims that the pro-life awareness adverts produced by Youth Defence and the Life Institute are harmful to women who have had abortions.
But the adverts were inspired by a woman who told me that, after her abortion, she felt as if her own life, and that of her unborn child, were torn apart. I remember the conversation vividly because her pain was raw and her grief seemed like an open wound.
Further, the much vaunted concern of abortion advocates for women has been less than evident recently. They were silent last year when an Irish woman almost died following a botched abortion in Britain. They said nothing when an investigation into Britain’s abortion clinics revealed widespread illegal activities, such as failing to counsel women and pre-signing consent forms. And their silence in the face of the monstrous forced abortion policy in China is shocking.
The truth is that abortion supporters object to our campaign because it does something they want to avoid at all costs: it brings the reality of abortion into focus. So they’re issuing complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority and, following much bravado and blustering on social media, have vandalised one or two pro-life billboards. So far, so predictable; though it’s always ironic to see just how intolerant of free speech these self-styled liberals and left-wing activists are.
It’s interesting too that the outrage is almost entirely orchestrated, and is confined to a small group of abortion campaigners. We have been inundated with support from the public, while Youth Defence’s Facebook page has grown to some 58,000 supporters.
In the Seanad last week Senators confirmed they had received no complaints from the public about the Youth Defence/Life Institute billboards. Senators were responding to the extraordinary demands that the advertising authority’s powers be extended to censor messages opposing abortion.
At the heart of these demands is a desire to give abortion advocates the power to set the parameters of any debate. Those parameters would exclude any discussion of what abortion does to a baby, and the denial of evidence that women can be hurt by it. That, of course, would not be a debate; it would be a sham. The Irish people deserve better.
Niamh Ní Bhriain is spokeswoman for the Life Institute