The former chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Ireland has challenged a “campaign of fear and misinformation” being waged in the lead-up to a national referendum on abortion.
Writing in the Irish Times, Dr. Eamon McGuinness has exposed “a sustained campaign” that uses disinformation to suggest that Ireland’s constitutional protection of unborn children puts “women’s lives at risk.”
Nothing could be further from the truth, Dr. McGuinness argues, and it should rather be a matter of national pride that Ireland “has been one of the safest places on earth to be a pregnant woman, and one of the safest places in the world to be an unborn child.”
In 1983, the Irish people called for an amendment to the constitution enshrining the right to life of the unborn. The Eighth Amendment, which is soon to be put to another national referendum, declares:
The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.
As Breitbart News reported last August, a leaked memo from DCLeaks.com revealed that George Soros has been funding pro-abortion groups through his Open Society Foundations with the intention of persuading Ireland to legalize abortion.
“With one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, a win there could impact other strongly Catholic countries in Europe, such as Poland, and provide much-needed proof that change is possible, even in highly conservative places,” the document stated.
The pro-abortion lobby has not been shy about twisting facts in order to advance its cause, notably that restrictions on abortion endanger women’s lives.
If these words truly put women’s lives at risks, “I myself would be leading the charge to have them expunged from the Constitution,” McGuinness states. “A constitutional restriction on my ability, or the ability of any of my colleagues, to save the life of a pregnant woman would indeed be intolerable.”
“Let me therefore be clear: no such restriction exists,” he adds.
The amendment does not keep doctors from acting to save the life of a woman where a serious complication arises, despite statements to the contrary from the abortion lobby.
“The Eighth Amendment has one medical effect only: it prevents Irish doctors from deliberately, as an elective matter, causing the death of an unborn child,” McGuinness notes. “It awards to the child in the womb the right to have their life protected in Irish hospitals, in Irish GP surgeries, and in Irish operating theatres.”
Medical Council guidelines in Ireland, however, oblige doctors to act on behalf of a mother’s life, even if that jeopardizes the baby’s life. Therefore, if a doctor believes that a pregnancy poses a real threat to a woman’s life, even if that threat is not immediate, he or she may perform a termination, usually by delivering the baby, he notes.
Regardless of one’s personal views on abortion, “the medical facts around the amendment are undeniable,” he writes.
In point of fact, recent studies have shown that maternal deaths in Ireland are “extremely rare,” Dr. McGuinness adds, and there is no basis whatsoever for the contention that doctors are restrained from carrying out life-saving interventions under the amendment.
With these facts in mind, “it has been very disturbing to see what amounts to a campaign of fear and misinformation deployed to tarnish the image of Irish medicine and make Irish women fearful of the treatment they might receive,” McGuinness states.
While there is a legitimate moral debate to be had about abortion, he notes, this debate is not served by lies and false propaganda.
McGuinness states that years of experience have left him certain that “a child is as human in the womb as it is when it first sees the light of the world,” but he still respects those who do not share this view.
“I believe the debate should be measured and respectful,” he declares. “What is regrettable, however, is the publication of untruths about Irish medicine and the role of the amendment we are debating.”
“The amendment does not inhibit our ability to treat a woman. It does one thing only – it bans us from intentionally killing one of our patients. I shall vote to retain it,” he says.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome