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Critique of the Expert group report on Abortion in Ireland

section

statement

comment

preface

“Article 47 of the Convention reqires implementation of the Strasbourg judgment”

The Irish Supreme Court ruled that the Irish Constitution trumps the European Convention on Human Rights, because the Convention is not part of Irish law and therefore not directly applicable in Irish cases. (McD. -v- L. & anor, 10 Dec 2009 http://bit.ly/g5k35B )

preface

“Two referendums tried to remove suicide as a ground and were defeated.”

The Irish people did not vote in favour of suicide as a ground for abortion. They were not given a clear question to answer regarding suicide. In fact, they voted against allowing abortion to save the life of the mother. In the 2002 abortion referendum the Irish people rejected a proposal to repeal sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, which ban abortion.

 1.1

“Ireland is a signatory to the Convention and is obliged to give effect to the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. It follows that the State is now required to implement this judgment.”

The Irish Supreme Court ruled that the Irish Constitution trumps the European Convention on Human Rights, because the Convention is not part of Irish law and therefore not directly applicable in Irish cases. (McD. -v- L. & anor, 10 Dec 2009 http://bit.ly/g5k35B )

4.3

“The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) supported the women [in the A, B & C case]”

 

The IFPA is the Irish branch of the international pro-abortion lobby. The case was never about helping women faced with a crisis pregnancy. It was instigated by the international pro-abortion lobby, which has the ultimate aim of forcing governments across the globe to recognise access to abortion as a legal right.

4.6

“The European Convention [on] Human Rights [is] legally binding upon Ireland.”

The Irish Supreme Court ruled that the Irish Constitution trumps the European Convention on Human Rights, because the Convention is not part of Irish law and therefore not directly applicable in Irish cases. (McD. -v- L. & anor, 10 Dec 2009 http://bit.ly/g5k35B )

4.7

“[S]ections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Act...have never been amended, so that, arguably, they remain in force with their absolute prohibition on abortion...”

This accords with the absolute ban on abortion following from an ordinary interpretation of art.40.3.3° of the Irish Constitution.

4.7

“[I]mplementing the judgment could not be considered to involve significant detriment to the Irish public, since it would amount to rendering effective a right already accorded, after referendum, by Article 40.3.3° of the Constitution.”

The Irish people did not vote in favour of suicide as a ground for abortion. They were not given a clear question to answer regarding suicide. In fact, they voted against allowing abortion to save the life of the mother. In the 2002 abortion referendum the Irish people rejected a proposal to repeal sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, which ban abortion.

 

This report is undemocratic. It fails to suggest as an option consulting the Irish people through a referendum.

  

5.1

fn 37

“Article 40.3.3°of the Irish Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the X case, provides that it is lawful to terminate a pregnancy in Ireland if it is established as a matter of probability that there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother, which can only avoided by a termination of the pregnancy.”

The Supreme Court’s interpretation of art.40.3.3° is not the same as art.40.3.3° itself. The Supreme Court is not infallible. It cannot declare white to be black. In the X case, no medical or psychiatric evidence was heard. In fact, the then Master of the Rotunda told the 2000 abortion hearings that the girl in the X case had not even been depressed at the time.

 

Another example of an incorrect Supreme Court decision is the 2009 Roche judgment which held that embryos before implantation are not protected by art.40.3.3°. One can point to other interpretations by supreme courts which enshrine in law serious human rights violations: Roe v Wade; the Dredd Scott decision denying personhood and citizenship to blacks; etc.

 

In any case, the Irish people have voted against allowing abortion to save the life of the mother. In the 2002 abortion referendum the Irish people rejected a proposal to repeal sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, which ban abortion.

 

5.1

“Principle 3. Termination of pregnancy should be considered a medical treatment regardless of whether the risk to the life of the woman arises on physical or mental health grounds”

 

“Given the circumstances in which a right to a lawful termination of pregnancy would arise, i.e. when there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the woman which can only be averted by the termination of her pregnancy, this procedure would necessarily fall under the category of medical treatment.”

 

“The C case judgment has also described termination of pregnancy in the circumstances described above as medical treatment.”

 

“Arising from this principle, it follows that standard medical practice will be maintained.”

“Termination of pregnancy” (abortion) is not medical treatment but a criminal offence in Irish law and a violation of art.40.3.3° of the Irish Constitution.

 

In 1992, a group of Ireland's top gynaecologists wrote: "We affirm that there are no medical circumstances justifying direct abortion, that is, no circumstances in which the life of a mother may only be saved by directly terminating the life of her unborn child." (Irish Times, 1 April 1992)

 

And in September this year (2012) a Symposium on Maternal Health held in Dublin said: “As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion – the purposeful destruction of the unborn child – is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.”

 

Britain’s Abortion Act 1967 is only meant to allow abortion on the grounds of physical or mental health (or on the ground of disability in the child). In practice, the vast majority of abortions in Britain (maybe 98%) are for social, not medical reasons. So it is probable that, however tightly worded, any legislation based on the X case will in practice be interpreted so as to allow abortion on spurious or even non-existent ‘medical’ grounds.

5.1

“Principle 4. It will always be a matter for the patient to decide if she wishes to proceed with a termination following a decision that it is clinically appropriate medical treatment.”

This is just a polite version of the pro-abortion mantra that “abortion is a matter between a woman and her doctor” and the pro-abortion slogan “Not the Church, not the State, women must decide their fate.”

 

In the UK, in practice in the vast majority of cases there is little or no “decision that [abortion] is clinically appropriate medical treatment”, but rather a ‘rubber-stamp’ with the tacit assumption that abortion is a woman’s right to choose and in the knowledge that no challenge will be made to the legality or morality of her choice. Women sometimes describe being fast-tracked via a ‘factory-line’ to abortion once they express interest in considering abortion as an option. Many women regret deeply their decision to have an abortion.

5.2

“Principle 1 The entitlement to have the right to lawful termination of pregnancy ascertained should be established.”

 

"Women have a right to receive a definite answer in the matter, unlike the circumstances experienced by C (see section 4.2). When there is a difference of opinion between the woman and her doctor or between different doctors  consulted, there should be a formal review process...."

What this doesn't say is what happens if there is no disagreement between a woman and her doctor. Why is there no option for every case to be reviewed, regardless of whether there is a disagreement between the woman and her doctor? What is to stop pro-abortion doctors rubber-stamping requests?

6.2

The Supreme Court in the X case held that the correct test was that a termination of pregnancy was permissible if it was established as a matter of probability that: 1) there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother; and 2) this risk can only be averted by the termination of her pregnancy.”

In 1992, a group of Ireland's top gynaecologists wrote: "We affirm that there are no medical circumstances justifying direct abortion, that is, no circumstances in which the life of a mother may only be saved by directly terminating the life of her unborn child." (Irish Times, 1 April 1992)

 

And in September this year (2012) a Symposium on Maternal Health held in Dublin said: “As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion – the purposeful destruction of the unborn child – is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.”

 

6.2.

“As part of the test, the treating doctors will have to consider whether it is practicable to preserve the life of the unborn in the process of terminating the pregnancy without compromising the right to life of the woman...”

Many doctors will use this leeway to perform direct abortions, in contravention of art.40.3.3° and ss.58&59 OATP Act 1861.

6.4

“...facilitate treatment of the medical condition where it requires termination of a pregnancy.”

In 1992, a group of Ireland's top gynaecologists wrote: "We affirm that there are no medical circumstances justifying direct abortion, that is, no circumstances in which the life of a mother may only be saved by directly terminating the life of her unborn child." (Irish Times, 1 April 1992)

 

And in September this year (2012) a Symposium on Maternal Health held in Dublin said: “As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion – the purposeful destruction of the unborn child – is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.”

 

6.7.4

“The Review Panel could be composed of specialists nominated by the relevant professional bodies...”

There is a danger of undue influence by professional bodies with a vested interest in abortion provision. In Great Britain the RCOG acts as a de facto trade-union for the abortion industry.

6.7.5

“The Review Panel would be administered by a Convenor with the necessary authority to oversee its operation ... Possible options to be considered in relation to the nature of the Convenor include the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive, or the announced Patient Safety Agency.”

Director-General (designate) of the the Health Service Executive, Tony O’Brien, is the former head of Ireland’s leading pro-abortion group, the Irish Family Planning Association. The HSE has appointed one of the world’s leading abortion advocates to head its inquiry into the Savita case.

6.9

“Most jurisdictions accept that an individual’s right to conscientious objection is not absolute and often has limitations.”

 

“Limitations on objections would include:

...

• the duty to refer to another doctor who is not a conscientious objector,

• the duty to hand over any necessary medical files or information for the purpose; and

• the duty to treat in circumstances when the risk of death is inevitable and imminent.”

These so-called ‘limitations’ are in fact violations of conscientious objection which are part of the current abortion regime in Great Britain, despite contravening European human rights law on freedom of religion and belief. In any case, abortion in Ireland is both unconstitutional and a criminal offence in Irish statute law, and therefore there should be no reference to conscientious objection, simply a restatement of the legal and ethical wrongness of abortion in all circumstances.

7.2

“Guidelines are often necessary in a healthcare setting where it is important to ensure consistency in the delivery of medical treatment. It is thus likely that a guidance document will be required in any scheme to facilitate understanding of the law by medical personnel, other health care professionals and lay people and to illustrate how to access treatment.”

Again, this is all predicated on the British-style assumption that abortion is medical treatment, access to which is a right to be facilitated. As in Northern Ireland, guidelines will be used by pro-abortion officials to mislead people about abortion law and practice.

7.2.1

“In this regard, only the implementation of a statutory

framework, compliance with which would provide a defence from criminal prosecution, would provide legal protection to medical practitioners. It would also counteract the effect of the 1861 Act, were this to remain in force.”

This is exactly how Britain’s Abortion Act 1967 operates. It creates the legal fiction that abortion is at one and the same time a criminal offence and a medical treatment.

7.2

“[T]his option would not satisfy the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.”

The expert group seems more anxious to satisfy the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe than to uphold Ireland’s sovereignty over abortion legislation. The Irish Supreme Court ruled that the Irish Constitution trumps the European Convention on Human Rights, because the Convention is not part of Irish law and therefore not directly applicable in Irish cases. (McD. -v- L. & anor, 10 Dec 2009 http://bit.ly/g5k35B )

 

In any case, the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B, & C case did not rule that Ireland had to legislate for abortion per se but merely to provide legal clarity. The Irish government can achieve this clarity by overturning the X case judgment.

 

7.4.3

“Option 4 (legislation plus regulation) ... would be amenable to changes that might arise out of clinical practice and scientific advances.”

In Britain, this has led to ‘bedroom abortions’, nurses and midwives performing abortions, abortion hotlines, self-referral, private abortion providers contracted by the State, etc.

 

 

 

Appendix II

“Terms of reference: ... To elucidate its implications for the provision of health care services to

pregnant women in Ireland”

The group failed to consider risks and damage which abortion can and does cause to women and men. It also failed to consider the negative effect abortion would have upon Ireland’s excellent record in maternal health.

 

European Life Network conclusion

 

By defining abortion as necessary medical treatment, and by undermining the absolute prohibition on abortion in the Irish Constitution and Irish statute law, the expert report sets the scene for legislation which will lead to ever-wider permissions for abortion. The history of abortion law in Great Britain shows that, over time, court judgments, new statutes, regulations and professional guidelines form a trend towards de facto abortion on demand. The Oireachtas must reject the expert group if it wishes to avoid this scenario. It must find a way to overturn the X case judgment and any other element of law or public policy in Ireland which fails to apply Ireland’s constitutional and statutory ban on intentionally ending the lives of unborn children from the point of conception onwards. This will also protect the lives and dignity of women, in a country whose maternal health record is one of the best in the world.

 

Published by: European Pro-Life Network, Glenrue, Ballinclea Road, Killiney, County Dublin, Ireland  Tel: (00353) (0)1 284 7136  Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Blog: http://europeanlifenetwork.blogspot.co.uk/