Safe, legal, and rare?
Reading time: 4 mins
After the referendum, new legislation will be passed to allow unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
But is 12 weeks really what’s on offer; or is it a means to an end? Let’s look more closely.
Bringing Ireland in line?
The Government says that its proposals will bring Ireland in line with the rest of Europe.
Yet, abortion laws vary throughout Europe.
In Croatia, Slovenia and Portugal, abortion is legal up until 10 weeks. By that stage, the baby’s heart is fully formed, as are lips and nostrils. Hardly just a cluster of cells, right? [Just a cluster of cells?]
In France and Germany, abortion is legal up until 12 weeks — the current cut-off point favoured by Varadkar and others. At this point in a pregnancy, the whole body is formed; [Development of baby] with organs, muscles and bones all in place.
Sweden allows abortion up until 18 weeks. By then, a baby is flexing its arms and legs.
The British allow abortion on demand up until 24 weeks, by which time the baby’s physical features are obvious, and its development at such a stage that he or she could survive outside the womb.
There is no consensus in Europe about when abortion should no longer be allowed, or why one arbitrary cut-off point should be chosen over another.
12 weeks? 24 weeks? 40 weeks?
Our Government has opted for the 12 week mark for now, but many politicians and pro-abortion lobbyists don’t believe that this goes far enough.
In January, The Irish Times reported that Fine Gael’s rising star Senator Neale Richmond had expressed the view that abortion should be made legal up until 24 weeks.
Four of the members of the Oireachtas Committee which examined abortion voted for abortion up until 22 weeks, including Fine Gael’s Deputy Kate O’Connell.
One of the main repeal organisations, the Abortion Rights Campaign, state openly that they are against any time limits on abortion.
They are advocating for abortion on demand up until the moment of birth. Quite a strange definition of healthcare, don’t you think? [Framing abortion as healthcare]
Should the 8th Amendment be repealed, groups like the Abortion Rights Campaign and high-profile politicians won’t stop at 12 weeks.
Fifty years and eight million abortions
Fifty years - and eight million abortions - after the Abortion Act of 1967, abortion in Britain has become so routine that one in every five pregnancies there ends in a termination. All told, there were more than 200,000 abortions in the UK in 2016. Still, the demand for expanded abortion rights continues, with BPAS now demanding full decriminalisation.
If the 8th Amendment is repealed, we will never again be consulted about any further legislation concerning abortion.
Instead, Irish people will be asked to trust politicians, many of whom tell us that they have been on a journey with respect to this issue.
The Taoiseach was until very recently firmly against abortion. As recently as September, he told The New York Times that he was against unrestricted abortion.
“I don’t share this view that the baby in the womb, the fetus, whatever term you want to use, should have no rights at all. And there are people who take the view that human rights only begin after you’re born and that a child in the womb with a beating heart, the ability to hear, the ability to feel pain, should have no rights whatsoever. I don’t agree with that.”
That’s quite a change of heart. Can Irish voters be confident that Leo and Co.’s journey has ended? Or is it the case that abortion at 12 weeks will just be the starting point on the way to a new destination?
One thing is for certain. If you back “limited” abortion but think anything past 12 weeks is a step too far, then your choice on May 25th is clear.