Pro-Life Campaign rejects proposal to introduce abortion legislation


THE Pro-Life Campaign has rejected the proposals on abortion made by the Constitution Review Group and renewed its call for a referendum on the issue.

The campaign's legal adviser, Prof William Binchy, yesterday dismissed the proposals as "substandard and surprisingly deficient, considering the importance of the abortion issue among the general public.

Mr Binchy criticised the review group's "acceptance" of, the Supreme Court judgment in the X, case, which he said was at variance with, legal opinion. He also claimed its report ignored current medical ethics and practice and proposed that the Oireachtas "impose undemocratic solutions" by introducing legislation.

The review group proposes legislation to define the term "unborn", protect medical intervention and, set, a time limit on lawful termination of pregnancy. It proposes legislation in preference to the introduction of an absolute ban on abortion into the Constitution.

But the campaign chairman, Mr Des Hanafin, said this approach was undemocratic and unjust" and would result in the legalisation of abortion. He called, on the Oircachtas committee which has been established to study the report to refer the issue back to the people for a clear and unambiguous decision.

"The report, having ignored current medical and legal practice which governs the treatment of mothers and their unborn babies, states that legislation is the only practical possibility. Essentially, it seems to be saying that since the people would not vote for abortion, it must be introduced by the legislature."

Mr Hanafin said a majority of the people had placed Article 40.3.3 the so called pro life amendment in the Constitution in 1983 with the clear intention that abortion could not be legalised in Ireland without their consent.

But their decision was overturned by the judgment in 1992 and "aggravated" further by the referendums that year on the right to information and to travel. These basically provided a choice between levels of abortion, he said.

There has been much public dissatisfaction with this situation. Since 1993, nearly 80 per cent of county councils and a large number of other local authorities have called upon the Government to give the people an opportunity in a referendum to vote Yes or No to abortion." In, this context, Mr Hanafin continued, to legalise abortion would be "a subversion of democracy".

Ms Geraldine Martin, chairwoman of Nurses for Life, said the review group had ignored the "crucial distinction" between cases where the death of the unborn may result as an indirect effect of appropriate medical treatment, and cases involving the intentional killing of the unborn child.

Treatments intended to protect the life of the mother, and not involving any direct attack on her unborn child, have always been ethically and legally roper even though the loss of her child may follow as an unsought and unwelcome side effect."