Enactment of Abortion Bill 'very sad day' for Ireland

Pro-choice groups will announce campaign in autumn to have amendment repealed

Legal adviser to the Pro Life CampaignCaroline Simons: ‘For the first time in our history, it is now legal to deliberately target the life of an innocent human being.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Legal adviser to the Pro Life CampaignCaroline Simons: ‘For the first time in our history, it is now legal to deliberately target the life of an innocent human being.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 


The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act is a “defeat of all those who uphold good medical practice,” according to the Pro Life Campaign, which will devote its energies to having it repealed.

Pro-choice campaigners have welcomed the legislation as a “very small first step” towards the provision of abortion services in a wider range of circumstances, including where a pregnancy is a result of rape or incest or there is a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality.

Legal adviser to the Pro Life Campaign Caroline Simons said the enactment of the Bill was a “very sad day”. “For the first time in our history, it is now legal to deliberately target the life of an innocent human being. The Pro Life Campaign will now devote its energies to the repeal of this unjust law,” she said.

Spokeswoman for the campaign Cora Sherlock said the legislation could “absolutely” be overturned.

“It’s a bad law, with no evidential basis. Legislators should act according to what medical professionals advise, not what political expediency dictates.”

On the other side of the debate, spokeswoman for Action on X Sinéad Kennedy said the legislation was “a significant small step”, but added it seemed “more focused on restricting access to abortion than on addressing the real circumstances of women’s lives”. She said the 14-year prison sentence that could be imposed on any woman or girl who procured an unlawful abortion constituted an ongoing “chilling effect” for women and doctors, which could leave the Act open to legal challenge.

The European Court of Human Rights in the A, B and C v Ireland case in 2010 described the legal prohibition on abortion as having a “chilling” effect on women and doctors here, when it ruled in favour of ‘C’ and against the State. Pro-choice groups would announce details of a campaign to repeal the 1983 Eighth Amendment to the Constitution at the end of September, she said.

Labour Party TD Aodhán Ó Riordáin said he and party colleague, Senator Ivana Bacik, would propose at the constitutional convention in the autumn that it recommend a referendum be held on repealing the Eighth Amendment, which guarantees the State will as far as practicable protect the equal right to life of the unborn and the mother.