Nasty medicine, straight up, no sugar

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I was going to write tonight on the hard cases, you know the ones, the rape, the incest, the fetal disability, the mother’s health. All the things we expected to form the arena for the debate. But it seems to me the debate has become a different thing.

The 8th Amendment has a clear aim of protecting both the life of mother and baby. You can read Article 40.3.3. It’s hardly obscure. You’d really have to stretch things a bit to read anything else into it; “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and… the equal right to life of the mother”. So far so good.

Add to this that Ireland’s maternal health is world leading. Our maternal death rate (the annual number of female deaths per 100,000 live births from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management) is one of the lowest in the world at 8 per 100,000, and half the European average. So the arguments that abortion is needed in order to update maternal healthcare, provide better medical choices and outcomes, provide better reproductive care and what not, are frankly garbage.

In that case, if we don’t need to remove our 8th Amendment in order to improve our maternal healthcare, why do we need to remove it?

For the hard cases you say? Well oddly, I thought we’d be arguing in that arena. I thought the pro choice lobby would be listing the hard cases and sad cases as the argument for abortion. I was all ready to point out that a baby conceived by rape is the same as a baby conceived in any other way, the difference is the brutality of the act that created it, not the humanity of the baby; brought into this world in the same biological (though not emotional or generous) way as all others. A baby is a baby regardless of what sort of foul boor its father is; it’s so obvious that I can’t believe I’m pointing it out. To suggest to a woman who is a victim of the violent and violating crime of rape and pregnant due to it, that her solution is to terminate the life of the baby, is adding another violent and violating act to the first. The woman is left to recover from the rape, and from the abortion. Many never recover from either and find their troubles compounded by the lie that abortion undoes the problem, when really it made the woman a mother with empty arms.

Likewise a disabled baby in utero has the same rights as the disabled child or disabled adult. All disabled humans have human rights, regardless of their age. Any pro-lifer worth their salt would fight for the life of a disabled person of any age should that life be under threat. Human rights go from conception to the grave. Again, it’s alarming that this needs to be stated. The degree of disability should not be the tipping point either. That’s a shifting sand to build any case on; think about the babies with Down Syndrome in Iceland; there are none, they’re all aborted. Or think of the baby in the UK who can be terminated up to birth for a ‘disability’ such as cleft palate or club foot. You cannot build legislation on a spectrum, it will always slide.

However the current suggested parameters for this debate, as set by the Citizen’s Assembly, and adopted by the Oireachtas, are not even that this or that reason is needed for abortion up to three months. Apparently we should just be able to get an abortion along with breakfast throughout the first trimester. No reason needed, not even ones that don’t hold water but would sugar coat the whole debate. We’re not even pretending anymore. Scrap that.

What Ireland will be voting on, is for any woman, for any, all or no reason, to be able to terminate the life of her child up to 3 months.

This is a short road to a few realities that other countries are living with which have this sort of abortion on demand. If you can get an abortion just for the asking within 3 months of conception, that will quickly lead to abortion as contraception. It’s the logical development of the process as it grows popular. So Varadkar’s idea that abortion should be ‘rare’ is just a big fib. The legislation will not only allow it not to be rare, it will ensure it won’t be.

We’ll also have abortion being used to cover abusive relations and sexual abuse of minors. If it’s that easy to procure, where you don’t have to pass customs, buy tickets and produce passports to get your underage or manipulated victim to the UK, it will become a much easier solution for abusers. You can just pop into town for one.

Then also, as abortion would become very common very quickly, as happened in the States and the UK, so its complications increase per head as well; from infection and sterilisation to suicide. You hear about Savita Halappanavar, who died of sepsis which an abortion would not have solved. You don’t hear so much about Aisha Chithira; who travelled from Ireland to the UK and was discharged from a Marie Stopes clinic while suffering internal bleeding. Or Bimbo Onanuga; a patient of the Rotunda, who’s perforated uterus from a previous abortion ruptured during a subsequent pregnancy causing the baby to move into her abdominal cavity. Women living in Ireland that abortion killed.

No one holds candlelit vigils for them, their names are kept buried. But it seems the Irish government would like these deaths to happen on home soil.

Bimbo Onanuga 32 year old mother of one. Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Ealing where Aisha Chithira died.

So let us not be under any illusion. The hard cases can be debated, the ethics for being pro-life in the hard cases are watertight and the debate can be had. But apparently the Dáil and the pro-choice side are not even bothering with that sideshow. Never mind selling something as necessary, they’re content to sell it as what they want it to be; a luxury, a choice, just something you plonk for after a crappy nights sleep.

The same Oireachtas which is framing the debate in these terms, is the Oireachtas that will legislate for the actual criteria if the 8th Amendment is removed. There is something else to be very clear on here. If the 8th Amendment is removed, the goal is laid wide open. There is no actual limit to what legislation may be enacted by the Oireachtas, and no limit to how they may change that legislation over time. No limit. And you will have no further say. So for example the three month limit could in a short few years be changed to five or six months on demand and you will not be consulted. That’s a conservative prediction.

Yes, yes, I know, the Oireachtas is the will of the people…. Because they are in step with us on everything right? Not so much. We’ve become accustomed to voting with our heads and not our consciences. That may seem harsh, but it’s true. We vote politicians in on economic policy, health policy, education, agriculture, jobs, the things that effect our own day to day lives. We don’t vote for pro-life politicians, we don’t even wonder where they stand on abortion. Now the politicians voted in because they said such and such on jobs or the environment, are hoping to decide what age unborn babies in this country can be terminated at for no required reason.

They’re even hoping to allow Irish babies to be terminated up to birth for so many reasons that a woman will be spoilt for choice in the criteria… “socio-economic reasons” anyone…?

Read that again, go back and read that sentence. In some cases up to birth. Partial birth abortion, for a broad range of loose reasons. That is exactly what it says on the tin. Viable or even full term, partly born, then terminated. Repealing the 8th Amendment leaves all current and future legislation for abortion entirely in the hands of the government, a government that wants abortion, and they will need no further recourse to you.

Even if you are not a passionate pro-lifer, you should be very, very concerned that this liberty in legislation is being sought by a small band of people. What can you do about it? Vote to retain the 8th, it is a security that once gone will be gone forever. And the next time you vote, ask your politician his or her opinions on economy and jobs and education and health – but it’s time to elect politicians that aren’t just about the science of governance, but are also ethically logical and stringent and constant. Quiz them forwards and backwards on it so that, unlike Simon Harris and Leo Varadker, who both stated pro-life positions before, you can be sure they won’t roll over at the scent of popularity. That is the epitome of who not to elect – the politician who can change his ethics to suit the times. If they can change their ethics, they can change anything.

Our vote in the referendum will not only save women and babies, it will save the issue being lifted entirely out of our hands as a people, and it will send a message to government that we expect politicians to possess a sincere and resolute moral compass and be consistent in their protection of all the children of this nation, from conception to the grave.

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Léan Nic Chomhaill

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Léan is a wife and mother. "There is some good in this world and it's worth fighting for" -- J.R.R. Tolkien
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