Ireland, keep protecting mothers and babies!

April 6, 2018

  Roxana Stanciu

“I know if I lived in a country where abortion was freely available, in a situation where I got the news that I got about Grace, the expectation would have been there for us to terminate [the pregnancy]. I think that expectation is creeping in here and that would have led to me not having my daughter today. I am grateful that she was protected.” These are the words of Sinéad McBreen, as quoted by The Independent.  Mrs. McBreen was told she was likely to suffer a miscarriage – but says her daughter was saved precisely because of Ireland’s 8th Amendment to the Constitution. 

Ireland will hold a referendum on the 25th of May on whether to permit abortion on request. Voters will be asked if they want to repeal Article 40.3.3. of the country’s Constitution– also known as the 8th Amendment – which since 1983 had given unborn babies and pregnant women an equal constitutional right to life. If Ireland votes in favour of repealing it, legislation will be introduced to allow unrestricted abortion access up to the 12th week of pregnancy.


Ireland should be proud of protecting the unborn

The 8th Amendment declares that 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.”  With this recognition, says David Quinn, an Irish journalist, “the Irish constitution makes the unborn child one of us. It acknowledges that it is a human being like the rest of us and deserves the same protection.”

John Bruton, a former Prime Minister of Ireland, has encouraged citizens to vote against repeal of the 8th Amendment. “It’s true that we are probably one of the few countries in the world that has, in our constitution, an express recognition of the right to life of the unborn child,” he says.  “[B]ut that’s something we should be proud of.” He further points out that to “arbitrarily say that, after whatever number of weeks, it’s OK to suppress that life is just not in accordance with the values of charity towards the weak in our communities that have exemplified the Irish over the last many centuries.” 

Many European NGO leaders working on human rights have also expressed their support for the 8th Amendment. Among them is Nola Leach, the CEO of CARE, who declared to BBC Northern Ireland: “Northern Ireland’s current legislation on abortion provides support for the unborn child; we should not seek to undermine or remove that protection. […] We recognise that there are difficulties women face with pregnancies, especially in cases where the unborn baby may be born with a life-limiting condition diagnosed as fatal, but we reject the claim that abortion is the answer.”


“A better answer for mother and babies”

According to the “Save the 8th” campaign, about 100,000 people took to the streets of Dublin in March for a ‘Rally for Life’ in order to express their rejection of the Government’s plan to permit abortions.

“These huge numbers are a rising of the people against the media and political elites and against the powerful international abortion industry who have poured millions into a campaign attacking our pro-life laws,” said a spokeswoman for the pro-life group, Niamh Uí Bhriain. “Ireland is at a defining point in our history, and we are challenging the people to reject the abortion industry and to demand a better answer for mothers and babies,” she further stated. “Abortion has no place in a compassionate and progressive society.”

Dr. Judy Ceannt, a medical doctor from Ireland, has also emphasized the fact that proponents of the effort to repeal the 8th Amendment have not even consulted with medical experts or doctors. “The basic law that governs our actions as doctors is first ‘do no harm’,” she notes. “We are not meant to intentionally kill or harm any patient, least of all the most helpless, the unborn baby.  The government has no right to impose this on us.”


Ireland should keep its compassionate and progressive approach  

Ireland, at the moment, has a unique culture of life and an important constitutional amendment that protects both mother and baby. It is a constitutional protection that is progressive, humane, and compassionate. Despite what its critics may say, the 8th Amendment is really about being pro-woman, pro-life, and pro-community. Protection of the 8th Amendment is thus a cause to champion and celebrate. 

The decision that Irish voters will make on May 25 on this fundamental issue will speak volumes about the country’s future – and the way its citizens choose to see the issue of life.  Whether or not Ireland chooses to continue to recognize the fundamental right to life is something that should concern all of us because we are all part of the same human family. 

Rather than give in to the narrow interests of the pro-abortion lobby, it is instead time for Ireland to robustly uphold and reinforce its pro-life values and make history – by voting “No” in the upcoming referendum and refusing to promote abortion.