COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS IN THE CURRENT ABORTION DEBATE

February 25th, 2013

MYTH

EXISTING LAW PREVENTS PREGNANT WOMEN FROM GETTING NECESSARY MEDICAL TREATMENT

TRUTH

EMERGENCY INTERVENTIONS ARE IN ACCORDANCE WITH EXISTING IRISH LAW AND MEDICAL ETHICS

Both the law and the guidelines of the Irish Medical Council allow doctors to intervene to provide essential medical treatment to women, and recognise that this may sometimes result, unintentionally,  in the death of the baby. In all cases where a pregnant mother experiences a life-threatening complication, the ethical and legal requirement is to provide whatever treatment is necessary. The death of a baby in such circumstances does not constitute abortion as commonly understood. All reasonable steps are taken to save the baby if this is possible; in abortion all steps are taken to ensure that the baby dies. This is an important distinction and failure to understand it causes much confusion.

MYTH

X CASE LEGISLATION WOULD ALLOW ONLY FOR VERY LIMITED ABORTION

TRUTH

X    CASE LEGISLATION WOULD LEAD TO ABORTION ON DEMAND

The X Case imposes no gestational limits for an abortion, so it provides no basis for imposing a time limit on abortions (such as applies even in very liberal regimes such as Britain’s. While a 24 week limit applies to the more commonly used grounds for abortion in Britain, the other grounds are not subject to any time limit. These include where the baby is diagnosed with even a minor correctable, disability such as cleft palate.)

The X Case allows abortion on the basis of a claim of suicidal intent, opening the door effectively, to abortion on demand, even up to birth.

Legislation that would tryto limit this would only be defeated in the Supreme Court. The key point here is that the problem is not Ireland’s respect for unborn babies enshrined in article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, but the Supreme Courts interpretation of that article in the X Case. In order to resolve this a referendum is needed.

It is practically impossible for a psychiatrist to predict whether a threat of suicide will be acted on. If a threat of suicide is a real and substantial risk to a woman’s life which can only be averted by the termination of her pregnancy (the X Case test), it is as much a risk to her life when she is seven or eight months pregnant as when she is one or two months pregnant. Any attempt to limit this would be vulnerable to challenge in the Courts

 

MYTH

POLITICIANS HAVE DONE NOTHING ON THIS ISSUE FOR 20 YEARS

 

TRUTH

 

POLITICIANS OF ALL PARTIES DID SIGNIFICANT WORK IN RELATION TO ABORTION BETWEEN 1992  AND   2002

It is untrue that Ireland’s political leaders have been inactive on the issue of abortion since 1992. Oireachtas members from all parties did   exhaustive work on the  process which led to the proposal put to the people in 2002. Previously, there were extensive consultations with all the relevant experts, interest groups, and with the general public. This was followed by careful delib­ eration which resulted in a proposal which would have put in place legislation guaranteeing the provision  of proper medical treatment to pregnant women, while removing the problematic elements of the X Case decision.

 

MYTH

IRELAND IS LEGALLY OBLIGED TO LEGISLATE FOR THE X CASE

 

TRUTH

THE ECHR DID NOT DICTATE WHAT ABORTION LAW IRELAND SHOULD HAVE, ONLY THAT IT BE CLEAR

The European Court of Human Rights required that Ireland put in place an abortion law that is clear It did not specify what form this law should take. In its decision in the ABC Case, the Court made clear that it respects the right of the Irish people to decide for them­ selves the extent to which they wish to restrict or prohibit abortion, and recognised as a legitimate state aim the protection of the unborn.

 

MYTH

THE IRISH PEOPLE VOTED TWICE TO KEEP THE SUICIDE PROVISION OF THE X CASE

 

TRUTH

MANY OF THE ‘NO VOTERS OF 1992 AND 2002 WERE OPPOSED TO ABORTION

 

It is not true that the Irish people “endorsed” the X Case decision in 1992 and 2002.. The ‘No’ voters, in both cases, did include people who wished to keep the X Case ruling, but also included many pro-life voters who were dissatisfied with the specific proposals for other reasons.