Pro Life Campaign says 12-week abortion limit a ‘red herring’

Anti-abortion group says Govt proposals would introduce ‘extreme abortion regime’

Attending the anti-abortion press conference on Friday: from left, Áine Kierans, Caroline Simons, Cora Sherlock, Liz Mc Dermott and Katie Ascough. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/THE IRISH TIMES

Access to a pregnancy termination without conditions up to 12 weeks, to be introduced if the Eighth Amendment is repealed, is a “red herring” the Pro Life Campaign have said.

The lack of gestational limits on terminations where there is a risk to the mother’s health or a diagnosis of a fatal foetal condition would make proposed Irish abortion legislation “more extreme than the law in Britain,” according to spokeswoman Caroline Simons.

On Friday, Minister for Health Simon Harris published a policy paper outlining how the Government intends to legislate if Article 40.3.3, dealing with the right to life of the unborn, is repealed. The paper identified 21 policy principles that would inform the drafting of legislation, including that gestational limits on abortion would not apply if there was a risk to the health of the woman, either physical or mental.

Responding to the proposals, Ms Simons said “Ireland would go from a country that protected and respected unborn human life, to one of the most extreme and unjust abortion regimes anywhere in the world.”


In England, Scotland and Wales abortion is available at the request of the woman up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, but can be carried out later, in circumstances where the mother’s life is at risk.

Ms Simons said it was a “red herring to say we are talking about abortion up to 12 weeks”, given the unrestricted gestational limits on terminations in certain circumstances.

Speaking about the tone of the upcoming referendum campaign she said “our supporters are always civil, and I’m sure they’ll always continue to be civil.”


Cora Sherlock, another spokeswoman for the Pro Life Campaign, said the proposed policy “is more radical than the UK, and it is something that offers no protection for babies.”

Katie Ascough, an activist involved in the anti-abortion campaign, said young people “deserve to hear both sides of the debate” and those with anti-abortion views should not be “intimidated.”

Ms Ascough said she hoped Ireland would reject the “abortion culture” other countries had adopted, adding “abortion is not a good thing, not for babies, not for women.”

On Saturday, the Save the Eighth campaign group will hold a rally in Dublin city centre, which organisers said they expect tens of thousands of people to attend.

Speakers at the rally will include Mattie McGrath TD, Declan Ganley, a general practitioner Dr Judy Ceannt, and Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute. The rally will start from Parnell Square at 2pm, and march to Merrion Square.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times