Thousands of Irish men and women poured into the centre of Dublin yesterday [Saturday] in a “National Vigil for Life,” the first step in a pro-life campaign to dismantle Ireland’s year-old abortion legislation, as reported by the Irish Times.
David Quinn, a writer and broadcaster who is head of the pro-family Iona Institute reckoned there were between 8,000 and 10,000 at the demonstration. He told Breitbart London: “This was very good because there was no publicity beforehand and nothing is happening politically on this issue now.”
“This was a very committed crowd drawn by word of mouth from all around the country. It was a way of telling the politicians that there are tens of thousands who will not forget about the issue. For every one who was in Dublin yesterday, there are far more up and down the country who will fight this.”
Quinn noted that when Enda Kenny, the prime minister or “Taoiseach,” was in Rome last month for the canonisation of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, he went out of his way to be photographed with Pope Francis: “This shows he is aware that the Government has a problem with among Catholics now. No way would he have sought the photo op if he didn’t have a problem.”
Last year, Kenny went out of his way to insist he was “a Taoiseach who happens to be a Catholic, but not a Catholic Taoiseach.”
What the pro-life movement want repealed is the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act 2013. Until this ironically-titled legislation was passed last year, the law allowed abortion in Ireland only if there were a threat to the life of the mother. A Supreme Court decision in 1992 broadened the interpretation of a “threat to the life of the mother” to include the threat of suicide, but no legislation was ever introduced to reflect this decision.
The 2013 legislation does so, but in such a liberal way that the new law places no time limit on the point at which a child in the womb may be destroyed, even when the mother is perfectly healthy except for her threat to commit suicide.
Such was the muddle when the legislation was being rushed through parliament that at one point a cabinet minister was forced in a national radio interview to explain who could claim custody of the child following a late abortion in which the child survived being forced from the womb by a doctor.
The question remains open as to whether the State is responsible for legal damages owed to a child who is born severely handicapped as a result of being born premature because of an abortion.
The legislation was pushed through the Dail, the Irish parliament, in a political panic following the death in October 2012 of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian dentist who was living in the West of Ireland with her husband Praveen.
Halappanavar had been rushed to hospital in Galway when she started to miscarry at 17 weeks. In a series of blunders, medical staff failed to diagnose that she was suffering from a potentially fatal bacterial infection.
Because of the failure to understand the cause of the miscarriage, staff refused the request by Mr and Mrs Halappanavar that an abortion be performed. In accordance with law, since doctors saw no physiological threat to the life of the mother and the child had a heartbeat, they said the miscarriage must continue to its conclusion without an intervention to kill and remove the child.
By the time septicaemia was diagnosed, it was too late to save Halappanavar’s life.
A reporter from the left-wing Irish Times heard about the death of Halappanavar and persuaded her husband to give an interview, in which he claimed his wife’s life could have been saved if she’d had an abortion.
He said he had been told in the hospital that his wife could not have an abortion to end her painful miscarriage “because this is a Catholic country.” Halappanavar said he protested that his wife was a Hindu.
Doctors denied they had made this remark, but later it emerged that a midwife had indeed tried to explain Ireland’s abortion law this way.
What was lost in the church-hating uproar about “a Catholic country,” was the fact that until last year’s legislation, Ireland’s abortion restrictions were based on the 1861 Offenses Against the Person Act, legislation enacted by the Protestant-dominated Westminster Parliament when Ireland was part of the United Kingdom.
The historic British prohibition on abortion for any reason except to save the life of the mother remained in an independent Ireland, while it was changed in all of the UK except the fundamentalist-Protestant dominated Northern Ireland. There, abortion laws remain highly restrictive and are still largely based on the 1861 legislation.
However, the understandable grief and anger of the husband led to a wave of ill-informed speculation on what had happened at the hospital, and a renewed demand from pro-abortionists that new legislation be introduced.
In particular, they demanded that a law be passed reflecting the 1992 Supreme Court decision which ruled that the threat of suicide by a pregnant woman constituted a risk to life which would allow her to have an abortion.
The 2013 legislation, against which the thousands in Dublin were protesting yesterday, was the result of this political pressure. Yet psychiatrists had testified to a Dail committee that there was no case in which abortion would be prescribed as a medical treatment for “suicide ideation.”
Despite this, section 9 (1) of the legislation provides that a woman’s request for abortion can be carried out if three medical practitioners, one obstetrician and two psychiatrists, certify that in their opinion there is a risk to the woman’s life by way of suicide, and this risk can only be averted “by carrying out the medical procedure [i.e. abortion].”
The pro-life movement fears that this suicide clause will be used as a large loophole.