Pro-life leaders in Ireland have warned that the Fine Gael-run government’s introduction of legislation to legalize abortion will have consequences for the party at the next election.
Rebecca Roughneen, a spokeswoman for Youth Defence, said Dec. 18 that her organization will make sure the Irish public does not forget that Prime Minster Enda Kenny and his party “broke the pro-life promise” they made before the 2011 election.
“The pro-life majority in Ireland will not tolerate this, and Youth Defence will make sure that every Fine Gael voter in the country is made aware of the party’s political cowardice,” she said. “They are bowing to the demands of the Labour Party and other pro-abortion advocates like Clare Daly, as opposed to their voters.”
Niamh Ui Bhriain, spokeswoman for the Life Institute, also reminded the prime minister of his commitment.
“If they break that promise then the pro-life movement will make every person in Ireland aware of what every Fine Gael (legislator) did in relation to abortion,” she said. “In that case, we would make sure that every Irish person knows that a vote for Fine Gael is now a vote for abortion.”
“This issue is the human rights issue of our time, and the lives of mothers and babies cannot be sacrificed to political opportunism,” she said.
On Dec. 18 the Irish government announced that it will introduce legislation on abortion that will legalize abortion in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.
The proposal is meant to bring the country’s laws in line with a December 2010 ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that said Ireland needed to clarify the legal status of abortion, in line with a 1992 Irish Supreme Court decision held that abortion must permissible to save the life of a pregnant woman, including when she threatens suicide.
Pro-life advocates fear that allowing abortion in cases of a suicide threat would in practice allow abortion on demand.
Ui Bhriain said two thirds of the Irish people want the risk of suicide excluded as grounds for abortion.
“The people understand that if the threat of suicide is included in any legislation it will introduce, for the first time, the direct and intentional killing of unborn children into Irish law,” she said.
The Irish government’s action follows the death of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian woman who was admitted to a Galway hospital while miscarrying. She reportedly asked for an abortion and later died of a severe infection.
Her death is still being investigated, but abortion advocates seized on her case to claim legal abortion would have saved her life and to push for changes to the country’s laws.
Ui Bhriain said Fine Gael knows Halappanavar’s “tragic death” had “nothing to do with Ireland’s ban on abortion.”
“Yet they are seizing this opportunity caused by public confusion to stream-roller the country into accepting abortion legislation.”
The four Catholic archbishops of Ireland issued a Dec. 18 statement saying the government’s decision to legislate on abortion should be “of the utmost concern of all.”
They said any abortion legislation would fundamentally change the “careful balance” between the right to life of a pregnant mother and of her unborn child in Irish law and medical practice.
According to the archbishops, the lawmakers will now face the question of whether they will “defend and vindicate the equal right to life of a mother and the child in her womb” or instead “choose to license the direct and intentional killing of the innocent baby in the womb.”
The archbishops called for prayers that “wisdom and courage” be given to the public representatives.