Passing flawed legislation on abortion would confirm groupthink of Irish elite
Column: Most of our legislators have shown themselves incapable of hearing anything that does not chime with introducing abortion on the grounds of suicide
Stephanie Gray from Stepaside and Maria Gonzalez from Dublin at an anti-abortion demonstration in Dublin last January. Photograph: Alan Betson
At the close of the rushed abortion hearings, Minister of State at the Department of Health Alex White noted the “high level of consensus”. He conceded there were also “diverging opinions”.
What consensus? Every session revealed concerns that profoundly undermined the Government spin that this legislation is just some kind of tidying-up exercise.
The master of the Rotunda Hospital, Sam Coulter Smith, said: “To enact and underpin the idea that termination of pregnancy is a solution or a treatment for a patient at risk of committing suicide when there is no evidence to support that intervention creates an ethical dilemma for our profession.”
He said that, in the case of suicidal intent, “delivering a baby at 25 weeks’ gestation could lead to death due to extreme prematurity or to a child with cerebral palsy or with other significant developmental issues”. The master of the National Maternity Hospital, Rhona Mahony, confirmed that up to 50 per cent of babies delivered at 24 weeks will die, and up to 50 per cent will have cerebral palsy. She also submitted that she was not a psychiatrist but if psychiatrists told her it was necessary to save a woman’s life she would deliver a baby at that gestational age or well before, as would the other doctors at that session.
Worry about job prospects
Contrary to political rhetoric about no change in medical practice, Dr Mary McCaffrey explained that medical personnel would have to be trained to carry out abortions because most of them have never done so to date, and the procedure carries risks of morbidity and mortality. Some doctors already worry about job prospects and discrimination against them if they refuse to carry out abortions.
Dr John Monaghan asked that the Act specifically prevent doctors from killing a baby directly before it is delivered, “either by surgical means or lethal injection”. No such guarantee is found in the heads of the Bill, which refer to a medical procedure “in the course of which or as a result of which unborn human life is ended”.
If none of that disturbed Alex White, you might have thought Prof Kevin Malone’s submission would have. But no.
Prof Malone, fresh from launching ground-breaking research on Irish suicide, commented on potential unintended consequences: “Contrary to the notion of it saving the lives of an extremely small number of females, it may be placing a greater number of young male lives at risk . . . the effect of legislation may be a greater loss of life in Ireland than life-saving.”
He wondered how mental health literacy would be taught in schools, given that the legislation legitimises suicidality for women in certain circumstances? Prof Malone’s point is reiterated in the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NSFP) media guidelines: “A dangerous message from the media is that suicide achieves results; it makes people sorry or it makes people eulogise you.”
Yet this proposed legislation says that the taking of unborn life, which is illegal in every other case except real and substantial physical risk to a mother’s life, may be rendered legal if you declare suicidal intent. Suicidal intent is therefore legitimised as a normal response to extreme stress, so normal that we have no choice other than to sanction the sacrifice of another human life.
Some pro-legislation psychiatrists took pains to point out that there are women, albeit in rare circumstances, who are not mentally ill but are suicidal due to pregnancy alone, and for whom, therefore, it is appropriate to facilitate an abortion.
Yet the NSFP media guidelines state: “Avoid simplistic explanations for suicide. Although a catalyst may appear to be obvious, suicide is never the result of a single factor or event, and is likely to have several inter-related causes.”
It is astonishing that Prof Malone’s statement has not provoked widespread concern. He made a written submission last January and his evidence was ignored then too.
Most of our legislators have shown themselves incapable of hearing anything that does not chime with introducing abortion on the grounds of suicide, even when it comes from a researcher they are simultaneously lauding for his or her other ground-breaking work.
Meanwhile, in Britain, a woman who has suffered from psychosis for eight years and is currently in a secure mental health facility for her safety has been granted an abortion against the advice of psychiatrists, her husband and her mother, all of whom believe she is too unwell to make such an irrevocable decision.
The judge rushed to facilitate her decision before 24 weeks’ gestation, even though part of her reasoning is that the baby is a girl. But of course that will never happen in Holy, Catholic Ireland – oh, sorry, Wholly Secular Ireland – because we are morally superior and we cherish our unborn children. We cherish them so much that we can contemplate either aborting them or delivering them at 24 weeks in full knowledge of the attendant risks, if three doctors think it would somehow help a suicidal mother despite the absence of any scientific evidence that it would help at all.
If this utterly flawed legislation passes, it will be proof that the groupthink in our elites is so pervasive as to be impenetrable by both science and common sense.