Friday, 21 December 2012

Lies, Damn lies and Broken Promises

For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world ...?
So the Irish government is to legalise abortion. Enda Kenny, the Irish Prime Minister, has turned out to be just another gutless politician who would sooner go back on the promise he made to the Irish electorate than stand-up to the bullying of the international abortion lobby. It will not come as a surprise to many that Kenny has caved-in to the pressure from abortion advocates in the Council of Europe, the office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Health and International Planned Parenthood Federation, but it is still a disappointment. 

Ireland has long been a thorn in the side of the international abortion lobby because it proved that it was possible to have an excellent maternal mortality record without legalised abortion. Efforts to introduce abortion in 1992 and in 2002 failed because the Irish people rejected flawed and fraudulent amendments to their Constitution. But the protection for children before birth has been gradually eroded by the anti-life initiatives of successive governments (such as the the State-run Crisis Pregnancy Agency) and anti-life rulings of the Irish Courts.

There have been a number of stages in the Republic's descent into the culture of death and each milestone has been marked by lies and falsehoods. The first and most damaging, however, was the 1992 decision of the Supreme Court in the X-case. It has taken 20 years but it seems that, unless the people rise up in opposition, this decision will finally lead to the legalised killing of children in Ireland.

The X-case

In a politically-motivated ruling, Irish judges said a 14 year-old girl, pregnant through rape, could have an abortion because her life was threatened. Not threatened in the way that it would be if, for example, she had had an ectopic pregnancy, she was allegedly suicidal so the threat was one of self-harm. The Court's first mistake was to confuse actual life-threatening conditions which arise during pregnancy with a threat of suicide. 

The Court’s second mistake was to pretend that abortion was a treatment for suicidal ideation. Even when there is no doubt that a threat of suicide is genuine, it signifies a psychiatric problem and can only be addressed by psychiatric means. There is no evidence that abortion can alleviate suicidal tendencies. In fact, there is a mountain of research showing the negative effect abortion has on mental health.* Women who undergo abortion are far more likely to take their own lives than those who carry their babies to term. 

The Irish Constitution

The nature of the psychiatric evidence presented to the Supreme Court in 1992 has since been called into question. But there is a more fundamental problem with the X-case which is seldom pointed out. And this is the judges’ interpretation of Article 40.3.3° itself.

The Irish Constitution cannot confer the right to life, it merely recognises it. The right to life is shared by all members of the human family by virtue of their common humanity. No State, no government, no authority can take this right away.

By the adoption of the Eighth Amendment (Article 40.3.3) the Constitution enshrined the position which was already codified in Irish law in the Offences Against the Person Act (1861). Section 58 of this Act makes it a crime to procure an abortion and section 59 makes it a crime even to help to procure one.

Article 40.3.3° states:

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.
By equating the right to life of the unborn with the right to life of the mother, the Constitution is in fact saying that the right to life of the child before birth is equal to the right to life of everyone already born. It did not change the right to life of  mothers. How could it since every human being shares the same right to life? The right to life of women remained the same after the passage of the Eighth Amendment as it had been before it. It is entirely false to claim, as the Court did, that the adoption of Article 40.3.3° somehow introduced a Constitutional right for mothers to take the lives of their unborn children. Abortion remains a criminal offence in Irish law and there can be no Constitutional right to commit this offence. 

There is no more right to kill a child in the womb in order to protect the life of another human being than there is to kill a child already born.

Medical treatments during pregnancy can have life-threatening consequences for an unborn child and sometimes result in their death. But it is never justifiable to end the life of any child, even with the sincere intention of protecting the life of another person.  

The Irish Supreme Court reached a perverse and unnatural judgement in the X-case. Enda Kenny claims that he must legislate in line with this judgement but this claim is entirely false. Contrary to what the expert group suggests, the ruling of European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in A, B & C v Ireland (2010) only requires the Republic to provide legal clarity, not the legalisation of abortion. There is no right to abortion in the European Convention of Human Rights and the ECtHR recognised Ireland sovereignty over its own abortion laws.

Kenny intends to repeal the Offences Against the Person Act and designate which hospitals are to carry out abortions. Both these proposals were rejected by the people in the 2002 referendum. This plan must be resisted - completely. It is important that pro-life groups, the Church and the people themselves are united in this resistance. There can be no negotiation over the right to life. Abortion is an intrinsic evil and there is no acceptable level of evil. 

In the records based UK study, Morgan CM, Evans M, Peter JR, Currie C. Suicides after pregnancy: mental health may deteriorate as a direct effect of induced abortion. (British Medical Journal 1997; 314: 902) comparing suicide attempts before and after abortion indicated the increase in suicide rates after abortion was not related to prior suicidal behaviour but was most likely related to adverse reactions to the abortion. The rate of attempted suicide remained level or decreased before and after pregnancies that resulted in giving birth. But following abortion, the suicide rate increased from a normal baseline to a significantly higher rate. 

Teenagers are at much higher risk of a suicide attempt after abortion. Researchers at University of Minnesota found suicide attempts increased ten-fold for teenagers who were post-abortive in the preceding 6  months. (Garfinkel B, Hoberman H., Parsons, J., and Walker, J. “Stress, Depression and Suicide: A Study of Adolescents in Minnesota,” Responding to High Risk Youth (University of Minnesota: Minnesota  Extension Service, 1986) 

Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ & Ridder EM Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health (Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry) found that 50 percent of post-abortive teenagers (15-18 years) had suicidal thoughts and  behaviours, double the rate for those pregnant but never aborted, and double the rate of girls who were never pregnant. 

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