Deceptively entitled Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 (my emphasis) the Irish Government’s legislative proposals strip the right to life from children before, and even during, birth in a broad range of circumstances.
Their Bill will compel all maternity hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to provide abortions. It will greatly increase the small number of abortions of questionable legality which are performed annually in Ireland.
It is urgently necessary that Catholic politicians are warned that support for the legislation would be contrary to Catholic teaching. In particular Catholics supporting these legislative proposals should be warned not to receive Holy Communion. Furthermore Catholic hospitals should be forbidden by Ireland’s bishops to provide abortion, if the legislative proposals are enacted.
The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill (2013) if passed will mark a radical change in Ireland's abortion law. In many aspects the Bill is more permissive than the British Abortion Act (1967):
- It repeals the comprehensive protection of unborn children under the Offences Against the Person Act (1861). It strips the right to life from children before, and even during, birth in a broad range of circumstances. Threats to life need not be inevitable or immediate.
- It permits abortion on the grounds of suicidal ideation – once again, even when a threat of suicide is neither inevitable nor immediate.
- Its numerous inconsistencies and ill-defined terms (eg "good faith", "reasonable opinion" and "due regard") render the Bill's limited protection of children virtually unenforceable.
- Its arbitrary and unscientific definition of "unborn" excludes all unimplanted embryos conceived naturally or by artificial means leaving such embryos vulnerable to exploitation.
- This definition ignores the implications of recent Irish case-law which identifies the point of genetic fusion of parental DNA (ie fertilisation, not implantation) as decisive in establishing motherhood.
- It will compel medical personnel to participate in abortion in some ways, while offering no protection to other professionals.
- It will compel maternity hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to provide abortions.
- It legalises abortion without the consent of a pregnant woman in undefined “emergency” situations.
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