Ronan Mullen of your Seanad writes:
The Government has launched the heads of its ‘Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013’. I enclose below for your information the transcript of what I said in the Seanad on Wednesday during the Order of Business debate. I hope to give a more considered analysis of the Bill in the coming days.
It is clear already that the Taoiseach and his Government are proposing a dangerous and destructive thing – the legalization of abortion on the ground of threatened suicide. There is no credible evidence that abortion is any kind of treatment for suicidal ideation in women. We know the consequences for the unborn child. And we know what this kind of legislation has started elsewhere.
I believe this proposal will lead to abortions, including late-term abortions, on demand.
Below are some suggestions for things you might do if you are concerned about this Bill and some ideas worth bearing in mind. It is really important that Fine Gael and Labour, but also Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin public representatives, hear from their constituents about this. At the time of writing, it is not clear what position Fianna Fáil will take on the legislation, despite the passage of several pro-life motions at its Ard Fheis last weekend.
There is no need to reply to this email. Also, please don’t hesitate to remind me if you don’t get a response to anything you send, because I am getting a lot of emails at the moment. Thanks for your patience.
Beir bua agus beannacht,
Independent Senator, National University of Ireland (NUI) Panel
Tel: 01 618 3930
Ways you can help:
1. Please contact your TDs, Senators and other political contacts to tell them, courteously but insistently, that you expect them to respect life and never to endanger it. This proposed legislation is profoundly wrong, in particular its provisions on abortion in case of threatened suicide, and it must be changed.
2. Please continue your lobbying efforts over the coming weeks or months, and do not be discouraged if sometimes it seems your politicians are not listening. The cause of protecting best medical treatment for women and respect for the life of the unborn calls is a noble one, and it deserves our persistence. Hard work always pays off.
3. Please encourage friends or loved ones to likewise take an interest, and to get involved in whatever way may suit them.
4. Please get in touch with the Pro Life Campaign (firstname.lastname@example.org) to offer your assistance in any way possible. They need friends and funds to continue doing their good work!
5. It’s short notice but if you are a person of faith, you may be interested in the Vigil for Life in Knock, Co Mayo tomorrow, Saturday 4th May. There are buses going from all over the country. For more information about these, contact Sheena at 01 5053060. Please make every effort to go, and to bring some friends or loved ones with you. For details see flier at www.chooselife2013.ie
Points worth remembering:
1. Legislating for abortion on the suicide ground is not required by the European Court judgment. We could provide the necessary clarity by introducing guidelines which would protect women in pregnancy by re-affirming that they receive all necessary life saving treatments in pregnancy and requiring that we also exercise a duty of care towards the unborn.
2. Legislation for abortion on the suicide ground is not required by the X-case. When he was Taoiseach, John Bruton said he would not introduce legislation in line with the X-case because that would have the effect of bringing abortion into Ireland. The Oireachtas has the prerogative of not legislating for a Supreme Court decision if it believes it would be harmful to do so.
3. This legislation will not be about ‘life-saving’ treatment but, in fact, the opposite. The Government has produced no evidence to show that abortion is ever beneficial in the treatment of the mental health of women. We know from the latest review of the evidence (Fergusson et al.) that abortion is not associated with any mental health benefit for women. In fact, it is associated with a low to moderate increased risk to women’s mental health. And, of course, we know a child always dies. So it is dishonest to pretend that this proposal is about saving life.
4. That is why over 100 psychiatrists last week signaled their opposition to being involved in certifying women as needing abortion because this is not evidence-based medicine. International experience shows that provision for abortion on the mental health ground will be abused. It is hard to see how things could be different in Ireland, given the nature of what is proposed today.
Obvious bad features of this legislation:
– Abortion on the suicide ground
– No apparent time limits
– No appeal process on behalf of unborn child
– Limited conscientious objection rights for doctors and none for healthcare institutions with a pro life ethos.
1 May, 2013
Senator Rónán Mullen: I repeat my request to the Leader that we have a debate on the draft heads of the legislation on abortion produced by the Government. The other House should debate it also.
The more I read the heads of this Bill the more I feel this is a really dark day. The Government is proposing something dangerous and destructive. I am very disappointed that our Taoiseach has led us to this point. His advisers and some of his Ministers have cooked up an unworthy political compromise on a life and death issue. The lines coming from the Government about this being restrictive and life-saving and necessary to implement a law that is already there are simply not true. This is about opening the door to abortion and not just by a chink. Under pressure, particularly from the Labour Party, the Taoiseach and his Government have ignored the tide of medical evidence against legislating on the grounds of suicide, not to mention the deep concerns expressed by more than 100 psychiatrists who appear to represent the overwhelming majority of their profession. It appears the hearings held by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children last January were just a charade not because of what was said at them which decisively rejected the notion of abortion as evidence-based treatment for suicide—–
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An Cathaoirleach: Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?
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Senator Rónán Mullen: Yes. My question is whether we can have this debate. These hearings were completely ignored and if we have more committee meetings they will be a charade as well. It is part of the careful choreographing of this issue. People are not equal members at committees, as is well known. This is a life and death issue that should be debated in each of these Houses. The Order of Business is not the moment to go through the really noxious and sinister aspects of this Bill which are certainly there. I will not put down an amendment to the Order of Business today because my colleagues deserve an opportunity to read the heads of the Bill and to see how awful some aspects of this proposed Bill are. I will, however, propose amendments to the Order of Business next week. The Taoiseach should be accountable to the Houses on such a fundamental issue. It is important that the Minister for Health and Children would go before both Houses and that each House would have an opportunity to debate this. We must not be herded and stage-managed. That is what has been happening all along on this issue. It is really unworthy of the Government to have done it in this way. Further hearings by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children will only add to that. I say that with great respect to the Chairman and the other members but we cannot have a proper debate if the committee hearings are used to manage the flow of information and the presentation of this Bill.