Here I am, wearily writing about abortion yet again, for the simple reason so few commentators will attempt to address the egregious spin put on the tragic death of a young woman.
A woman bleeds to death in a taxi after an abortion in a Marie Stopes Clinic, and that is somehow the fault of people who oppose all direct abortions? Is there nothing that will cause ardent pro-choice people to question abortion, or abortion providers, not even the unnecessary and cruel death this young woman suffered?
Apparently not. Over a decade ago Prof Patricia Casey and I organised a conference called 5,000 Too Many, which brought pro-choice and pro-life people together to discuss reducing the numbers of women seeking abortion by providing viable alternatives.
However, among pro-choice people, it appears that attitudes have hardened to the extent that any abortion, for whatever reason, so long as a woman wishes to have it, must be facilitated.
Senator Ivana Bacik has been commendably honest about her pro-choice views. I believe she is motivated by concern for women.
However, this week, she was to the forefront, not in demanding that there be an immediate investigation into Marie Stopes Clinics, but in condemning pro-life people for their “hypocrisy” in not wanting abortion clinics to open here.
Let’s look at some cases involving Marie Stopes Clinics. In 2007, a 15-year-old girl, Alesha Thomas, died from a heart attack caused by bacterial toxins after an abortion.
The Leeds clinic was reprimanded by the coroner because no one had bothered to follow up when Ms Thomas left without picking up a prescription for antibiotics, not even when her worried mother rang the helpline to say how ill she was. ... Continue reading at Irish Times
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Irish Times-Breda O'Brien: Pro Abortion campaigners ignoring threats to women’s lives posed by abortion
Friday, July 26, 2013
Full texts of Pope Francis’ greeting and homily:Prayer service at Copacabana with WYD pilgrims-July 25th, 2013
Thursday, July 25th, 2013
Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Dear Young Friends,
Good evening! In you I see the beauty of Christ’s young face and I am filled with joy. I recall the first World Youth Day on an international level. It was celebrated in 1987 in Argentina, in my home city of Buenos Aires. I still cherish the words of Blessed John Paul II to the young people on that occasion: “I have great hope in you! I hope above all that you will renew your fidelity to Jesus Christ and to his redeeming Cross” (Address to Young People, Buenos Aires, 11 April 1987).
Before I continue, I would like to call to mind the tragic accident in French Guiana in which young Sophie Morinière was killed and other young people were wounded. I invite all of you to observe a minute’s silence and to pray for Sophie, for the wounded, and for their families.
This year, World Youth Day comes to Latin America for the second time. And you, young people, have responded in great number to the invitation extended by Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate this occasion. We express to him our heartfelt thanks. I am looking at the large crowd before me – there are so many of you! And you have come from every continent! In many cases you have come from afar, not only geographically, but also existentially, culturally, socially and humanly. But today you are all here, or better yet, we are all here together as one, in order to share the faith and the joy of an encounter with Christ, of being his disciples. This week Rio has become the centre of the Church, its heart both youthful and vibrant, because you have responded generously and courageously to the invitation that Christ has made to you to be with him and to become his friends.
The train of this World Youth Day has come from afar and has travelled across all of Brazil following the stages of the project entitled “Bota fé – put on faith!” Today the train has arrived at Rio de Janeiro. From Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer embraces us and blesses us. Looking out to this sea, the beach and all of you gathered here, I am reminded of the moment when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him by the shores of Lake Tiberias. Today Christ asks each of us again: Do you want to be my disciple? Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a witness to my Gospel? In the spirit of The Year of Faith, these questions invite us to renew our commitment as Christians. Your families and local communities have passed on to you the great gift of faith, Christ has grown in you. I have come today to confirm you in this faith, faith in the living Christ who dwells within you, but I have also come to be confirmed by the enthusiasm of your faith!
I greet you with great affection. To all of you assembled here from the five continents and, through you, to all young people of the world, and in particular to those who have not been able to come to Rio de Janeiro but who are following us by means of radio, television and internet, I say: Welcome to this immense feast of faith! In several parts of the world, at this very moment, many young people have come together to share this event: let us all experience the joy of being united with each other in friendship and faith. And be sure of this: my pastoral heart embraces all of you with universal affection. From the summit of the mountain of Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer welcomes you to this beautiful city of Rio!
I wish to extend greetings to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the dear and tireless Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, and to all who work with him. I thank Archbishop Orani João Tempesta, of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, for the warm welcome given to me and for the considerable work of preparation for this World Youth Day, together with the many Dioceses of this vast country of Brazil. I would also like to express my gratitude to all the national, state and local authorities and to those who have worked to make possible this unique moment of celebration of unity, faith and fraternity. Thank you to my brother Bishops, to the priests, seminarians, consecrated persons and the lay faithful that have accompanied the young from various parts of the world on their pilgrimage to Jesus. To each and every one of you I offer my affectionate embrace in the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, dear friends, welcome to the XXVIII World Youth Day in this marvellous city of Rio de Janeiro!
In off the cuff remarks during his greeting Pope Francis revealed he had Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to accompany him in prayer to Rio and the Holy Father said Pope Benedict accepted this request with joy and is now in front of his TV watching this event.
During his greeting he also added, that Bishops sometimes have problems that make them sad. How terrible, a sad Bishop, he exclaimed, "and why am I not sad," because he said, he had come to be infected by the spirit of the young people at World Youth Day.
Homily of Pope Francis
Copacabana prayer service
July 25th, 2013
Rio de Janeiro
“It is good for us to be here!”, Peter cries out after seeing the Lord Jesus transfigured in glory. Do we want to repeat these words with him? I think the answer is yes, because here today, it is good for all of us to be gathered together around Jesus! It is he who welcomes us and who is present in our midst here in Rio. In the Gospel we have heard God the Father say: “This is my Son, my chosen one; listen to him!” (Lk 9:35). If it is Jesus who welcomes us, we too ought to welcome him and listen to his words; it is precisely through the welcome we give to Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, that the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future, and enables us joyfully to advance along that way with wings of hope (cf. Lumen Fidei, 7).
But what can we do? “Bota fé – put on faith”. The World Youth Day Cross has proclaimed these words throughout its pilgrimage in Brazil. “Put on faith”: what does this mean? When we prepare a plate of food and we see that it needs salt, well, we “put on” salt; when it needs oil, then you “put on” oil. “To put on”, that is, to place on top of, to pour over. And so it is in our life, dear young friends: if we want it to have real meaning and fulfilment, as you want and as you deserve, I say to each one of you, “Put on faith”, and your life will take on a new flavour, it will have a compass to show you the way; “put on hope” and every one of your days will be enlightened and your horizon will no longer be dark, but luminous; “put on love”, and your life will be like a house built on rock, your journey will be joyful, because you will find many friends to journey with you. Put on faith, put on hope, put on love!
But who can give us all this? In the Gospel we have just heard the answer: Christ. “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” Jesus is the one who brings God to us and us to God. With him, our life is transformed and renewed, and we can see reality with new eyes, from Jesus’ standpoint, with his own eyes (cf. Lumen Fidei, 18). For this reason, I want to insist with you today: “Put on Christ!” in your life, and you will find a friend in whom you can always trust; “put on Christ” and you will see the wings of hope spreading and letting you journey with joy towards the future; “put on Christ” and your life will be full of his love; it will be a fruitful life.
Today, I would like each of us to ask sincerely: in whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus? We are all tempted to put ourselves at the centre, to think that we alone build our lives or that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power. But it is not so. Certainly, possessions, money and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. “Put on Christ” in your life, place your trust in him and you will never be disappointed! You see how faith accomplishes a revolution in us, one which we can call Copernican, because it removes us from the centre and restores it to God; faith immerses us in his love and gives us security, strength, and hope. To all appearances, nothing has changed; yet, in the depths of our being, everything is different. Peace, consolation, gentleness, courage, serenity and joy, which are all fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22), find a home in our heart, and our very being is transformed; our way of thinking and acting is made new, it becomes Jesus’ own, God’s own, way of thinking and acting. During the Year of Faith, this World Youth Day is truly a gift offered to us to draw us closer to the Lord, to be his disciples and his missionaries, to let him renew our lives.
Dear young people: “Put on Christ” in your lives. In these days, Christ awaits you in his word; listen carefully to him and your heart will be warmed by his presence; “Put on Christ”: he awaits you in the sacrament of Penance, to heal by his mercy the wounds caused by sin. Do not be afraid to ask God’s forgiveness! He never tires of forgiving us, like a father who loves us. God is pure mercy! “Put on Christ”: he is waiting for you in his flesh in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his presence and his sacrifice of love, and in the humanity of the many young people who will enrich you with their friendship, encourage you by their witness to the faith, and teach you the language of charity, goodness and service.
You too, dear young people, can be joyful witnesses of his love, courageous witnesses of his Gospel, carrying to this world a ray of his light.
“It is good for us to be here”, putting on Christ in our lives, putting on the faith, hope and love which he gives us. Dear friends, in this celebration we have welcomed the image of Our Lady of Aparecida. With Mary, may we be disciples and missionaries. Like her, may we say “Yes” to God. Let us ask that her maternal heart intercede for us, so that our hearts may be open to loving Jesus and making others love him. He is waiting for us, and he is counting on us. Amen.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Full text of Pope Francis' address to staff and patients at the St Francis of Assisi hospital in Rio de Janeiro
Members of the Venerable Third Order of Saint Francis of Penance,
Doctors, Nurses, and Health Care Workers,
Dear Young People and Family Members,
God has willed that my journey, after the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, should take me to a particular shrine of human suffering – the Saint Francis of Assisi Hospital. The conversion of your patron saint is well known: the young Francis abandoned the riches and comfort of the world in order to become a poor man among the poor. He understood that true joy and riches do not come from the idols of this world – material things and the possession of them – but are to be found only in following Christ and serving others. Less well known, perhaps, is the moment when this understanding took concrete form in his own life. It was when Francis embraced a leper. This brother, suffering and an outcast, was the “mediator of light ... for Saint Francis of Assisi” (Lumen Fidei, 57), because in every suffering brother and sister that we embrace, we embrace the suffering Body of Christ. Today, in this place where people struggle with drug addiction, I wish to embrace each and every one of you, who are the flesh of Christ, and to ask God to renew your journey, and also mine, with purpose and steadfast hope.
To embrace – we all have to learn to embrace the one in need, as Saint Francis did. There are so many situations in Brazil, and throughout the world, that require attention, care and love, like the fight against chemical dependency. Often, instead, it is selfishness that prevails in our society. How many “dealers of death” there are that follow the logic of power and money at any cost! The scourge of drug-trafficking, that favours violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death, requires of society as a whole an act of courage. A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug use, as is currently being proposed in various parts of Latin America. Rather, it is necessary to confront the problems underlying the use of these drugs, by promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future. We all need to look upon one another with the loving eyes of Christ, and to learn to embrace those in need, in order to show our closeness, affection and love.
To embrace someone is not enough, however. We must hold the hand of the one in need, of the one who has fallen into the darkness of dependency perhaps without even knowing how, and we must say to him or her: You can get up, you can stand up. It is difficult, but it is possible if you want to. Dear friends, I wish to say to each of you, but especially to all those others who have not had the courage to embark on our journey: You have to want to stand up; this is the indispensible condition! You will find an outstretched hand ready to help you, but no one is able to stand up in your place. But you are never alone! The Church and so many people are close to you. Look ahead with confidence. Yours is a long and difficult journey, but look ahead, there is “a sure future, set against a different horizon with regard to the illusory enticements of the idols of this world, yet granting new momentum and strength to our daily lives” (Lumen Fidei, 57). To all of you, I repeat: Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! And not only that, but I say to us all: let us not rob others of hope, let us become bearers of hope!
In the Gospel, we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, that speaks of a man assaulted by robbers and left half dead at the side of the road. People pass by him and look at him. But they do not stop, they just continue on their journey, indifferent to him: it is none of their business! Only a Samaritan, a stranger, sees him, stops, lifts him up, takes him by the hand, and cares for him (cf. Lk 10:29-35). Dear friends, I believe that here, in this hospital, the parable of the Good Samaritan is made tangible. Here there is no indifference, but concern. There is no apathy, but love. The Saint Francis Association and the Network for the Treatment of Drug Addiction show how to reach out to those in difficulty because in them we see the face of Christ, because in these persons, the flesh of Christ suffers. Thanks are due to all the medical professionals and their associates who work here. Your service is precious; undertake it always with love. It is a service given to Christ present in our brothers and sisters. As Jesus says to us: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).
And I wish to repeat to all of you who struggle against drug addiction, and to those family members who share in your difficulties: the Church is not distant from your troubles, but accompanies you with affection. The Lord is near you and he takes you by the hand. Look to him in your most difficult moments and he will give you consolation and hope. And trust in the maternal love of his Mother Mary. This morning, in the Shrine of Aparecida, I entrusted each of you to her heart. Where there is a cross to carry, she, our Mother, is always there with us. I leave you in her hands, while with great affection I bless all of you.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
On Friday, the President delivered surprise remarks to the press about the Trayvon Martin case and race in general. His main point: a plea for understanding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store, that includes me. I don't want to exaggerate this but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: And that's true. Many black Americans harbor at least some resentment for past injury. But what President Obama surely knows is that you cannot reach a fair criminal verdict or design effective public policy that solves present problems by dwelling on the sins of the past. "Talking Points" believes the President was correct in addressing the race issue and framing it with the Martin case. He's the leader of America and the country is talking about this.
By the way, when you hear a pundit or politician saying we should have a quote, "conversation" about race, that means you are in for a sea of bloviating which will likely lead nowhere.
The sad truth is that from the President on down, our leadership has no clue, no clue at all about how to solve problems within the black community. And many are frightened to even broach the issue. That's because race hustlers and the grievance industry have intimidated the so- called "conversation," turning any valid criticism of African-American culture into charges of racial bias.
So many in power simply walk away leaving millions of law abiding African-Americans to pretty much fend for themselves in violent neighborhoods. You want racism? That's racism.
Thus, it is time for some straight talk, and I hope the President is listening tonight because we need him to lead on this issue.
Trayvon Martin was killed because circumstances got out of control. He was scrutinized by a neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, because of the way he looked. Not necessarily his skin color, there is no evidence of that but because he was a stranger to Zimmerman and was dressed in clothing sometimes used by street criminals.
It was wrong for Zimmerman to confront Martin based on his appearance. But the culture that we have in this country does lead to criminal profiling because young black American men are so often involved in crime, the statistics overwhelming.
But here is the headline: young black men commit homicides at a rate 10 times greater than whites and Hispanics combined. When presented with damning evidence like that, and like the mini-holocaust in Chicago where hundreds of African-Americans are murdered each year the civil rights industry looks the other way or makes excuses. They blame guns, poor education, lack of jobs, rarely do they define the problem accurately. So here it is. The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family.
Right now about 73 percent of all black babies are born out of wedlock. That drives poverty. And the lack of involved fathers leads to young boys growing up resentful and unsupervised. When was the last time you saw a public service ad telling young black girls to avoid becoming pregnant? Has President Obama done such an ad? How about Jackson or Sharpton? Has the Congressional Black Caucus demanded an ad like that? How about the PC pundits who work for NBC News?
White people don't force black people to have babies out of wedlock. That's a personal decision; a decision that has devastated millions of children and led to disaster both socially and economically. So raised without much structure, young black men often reject education and gravitate towards the street culture, drugs, hustling, gangs. Nobody forces them to do that; again, it is a personal decision.
But the entertainment industry encourages the irresponsibility by marketing a gangster culture, hip hop, movies, trashy TV shows to impressionable children. In fact, President Obama has welcomed some of the worst offenders in that cesspool to the White House when he should be condemning what these weasels are doing. These so-called entertainers get rich while the kids who emulate their lyrics and attitude destroy themselves.
And then there is the drug situation. Go to Detroit and ask anyone living on the south side of the eight-mile road what destroyed their city? They will tell you narcotics. They know addiction leads to crime and debasement. But what do the race hustlers and limousine liberals yell about? The number of black men in prison for selling drugs. Oh, it's so unfair. It's a nonviolent crime and blacks are targeted. That is one of the biggest lies in the history of this country.
The thugs who sell hard drugs, no matter what color they are, deserve to be put away for long periods of time. They sell poison, they sell a product that enslaves and kills. They are scum.
When was the last time you heard the Congressional Black Caucus say that? How about Jackson and Sharpton? How about President Obama?
The solution to the epidemic of violent crime in poor black neighborhoods is to actively discourage pregnancies out of marriage, to impose strict discipline in the public schools, including mandatory student uniforms, and to create a zero tolerance policy for gun and drug crimes imposing harsh mandatory prison time on the offenders.
And finally, challenging the entertainment industry to stop peddling garbage. Hey listen up you greed heads, if a kid can't speak proper English, uses the "f" word in every sentence, it's disgraceful, it's disrespectful -- it's disrespectful in his or her manner. That child will never, never be able to compete in the marketplace of America... never. And it has nothing to do with slavery. It has everything to do with you Hollywood people and you derelict parents. You're the ones hurting these vulnerable children.
You want a conversation, you got it. You want a better situation for blacks, give them a chance to revive their neighborhoods and culture. Work with the good people to stop the bad people. Pumping money into the chaos does little. You can't legislate good parenting or responsible entertainment. But you can fight against the madness, with discipline, a firm message and little tolerance for excuse-making.
It is now time for the African-American leadership, including President Obama to stop the nonsense. Walk away from the world of victimization and grievance and lead the way out of this mess.
And that's "The Memo."
- You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the Fox News Channel and any time on foxnews.com/oreilly. Send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Thousands of young Roman Catholics from around the Americas are traveling to Rio de Janeiro, taking dayslong bus trips or expensive plane flights that were paid for by baking cookies and holding garage sales, running raffles and bingo tournaments and even begging for coins in public plazas to see their beloved "slum Pope" on his first trip outside Italy as Pontiff. Pope Francis tweeted on Saturday: "Dear young friends, I know that many of you are still traveling to Rio. May the Lord accompany you on your way." On Friday he met for more than 30 minutes with former Pope Benedict XVI, who had originally been scheduled to make the trip, and gave him a copy of a program of the trip in case he wanted to watch events on television, the Vatican said.... Continue reading at NEWSMAX
Monday, July 8, 2013
60,000 people marched from Parnell Sqaure to Dåil Eireann on July 6th to send a strong message to Enda Kenny and the Irish Government that we the people do not want abortion and want our right to vote on this crucial issue! Let the people vote!
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
July 2, 2013 Message to Mirjana
"Dear children, with a motherly love I am imploring you to give me the gift of your hearts, so I can present them to my Son and free you – free you from all the evil enslaving and distancing you all the more from the only Good – my Son – from everything which is leading you on the wrong way and is taking peace away from you.
I desire to lead you to the freedom of the promise of my Son, because I desire for God's will to be fullfilled completely here; and that through reconcilliation with the Heavenly Father, through fasting and prayer, apostles of God's love may be born – apostles who will freely, and with love, spread the love of God to all my children – apostles who will spread the love of the trust in the Heavenly Father and who will keep opening the gates of Heaven. Dear children, extend the joy of love and support to your shepherds, just as my Son has asked them to extend it to you. Thank you."
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
The Vatican congregation in charge of examining candidates for sainthoods has recognized a second miracle by John Paul II, leaving just a papal signature necessary to authorize the former pope's canonization, Italian news agency ANSA reported Tuesday. The Polish pope is likely to be canonized by the end of the year in a ceremony which could take place in December, the agency said. Vatican theologians in June had attributed a second miracle to John Paul II, which Vatican sources had said would "amaze the world," the report said...Continue reading at GMA News
Monday, July 1, 2013
Statement on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013
Minister Lucinda Creighton T.D.
1st July 2013
I must say that I never imagined when I stood for election to Dáil Éireann for the second time in 2011, that I would find myself here, just 2 years later, speaking on a Government sponsored Bill to liberalise abortion law in Ireland.
I am in no doubt by now that this legislation will pass, notwithstanding the many reservations expressed privately and publicly by colleagues from all parties – indeed, in the face of the grave reservations expressed by experts psychiatrists in two separate sessions of Oireachtas health committee hearings.
I can only hope that logic and verifiable evidence will prevail and substantive amendments will be accepted to ensure that the rights of all human beings are protected with the full rigour of the law.
I have never regarded myself as a pro-life campaigner. I was not motivated to become active in politics because of the abortion issue. In fact I have spoken previously about the fact that I held a very different view on this matter when I was a student.
However, after much reflection, my views have evolved over the years; as I learned more about the topic, as I came in contact with friends and family affected by abortion, and as I matured and developed my own independent analysis of this most sensitive topic.
Crucially for me I stepped outside the “groupthink” which I genuinely believe dominates this debate in Ireland. It seems that if you do not succumb to the accepted view that abortion is a “liberal issue”, a “women’s rights issue”, a cornerstone of the “progressive agenda”, then you are deemed to be a backward, illiberal, Neanderthal fundamentalist who belongs to a different era. The distinct irony of this prevailing view, is that it is so illiberal in its intolerance of any alternative outlook.
Of course I respect the right of people to campaign for liberal access to abortion. Maybe they do not consider abortion to be the intentional ending of human life, and so they simply see it as a medical procedure, which can simply be regarded as a clear-cut choice.
I can appreciate this way of thinking because I used to think that way myself. Carried along with the accepted supposedly “progressive” view on abortion, I never considered the other life involved.
Of course, because of the huge stress and trauma that surrounds abortion, we know that this medical procedure analogy is a sterile, yet dangerous, inaccuracy. I think that the vast majority of us know and appreciate that an unborn baby, is just that, a baby.
If such a baby is born prematurely, we do not simply shrug our shoulders and say this baby has not come to full term, it is merely a foetus, we will not treat it. Of course not. We will do everything possible within the bounds of medical science to save that baby’s life. We know that baby cannot live independently outside the womb, but that is not a cause to give up on it. This is human life after all. We must save it.
Some say this is a women’s issue, that its all about women’s rights. Therefore if you are “pro life”, you are somehow “anti woman”.
Yet, when one steps back from the stifling groupthink, and reflects, I think one arrives at a different view. I am a woman and I am happy to say that I am also very much in favour of women’s rights. But by that I mean all women. Not just adults or adolescents or children – I mean babies too.
The sad reality, as we look around the globe at how women’s rights are advocated, promoted and defended, it is clear to me that abortion is in fact, often a tool for the oppression of women.
Look at China, India, Korea and indeed some parts of Europe and the United States. The societal preference for boys over girls has led to the obliteration of tens of millions of baby girls who were simply never born. A famous feature carried by the Economist magazine in 2010 showed just how females are discriminated against in this age of abortion.
One paragraph from that edition of the Economist jumped out at me and frightened me:
“Until the 1980s people in poor countries could do little about this preference: before birth, nature took its course. But in that decade, ultrasound scanning and other methods of detecting the sex of a child before birth began to make their appearance. These technologies changed everything. Doctors in India started advertising ultrasound scans with the slogan “Pay 5,000 rupees ($110) today and save 50,000 rupees tomorrow” (the saving was on the cost of a daughter’s dowry). Parents who wanted a son, but balked at killing baby daughters, chose abortion in their millions.”
It would be bizarre if we, as legislators and hopefully, as thinkers, did not ask the obvious question “What is the net difference” between such screening followed by intentional gender-based abortion, and the intentional killing of that baby after delivery? The answer is of course none.
The net effect is exactly the same, which is to say that an innocent baby, is simply wiped out. The scale of this exercise is such that in China, by the year 2020, there will be 30-40 million less women than men walking the earth, growing up, having families, going to work and generally contributing to society . 30-40 million less women is hardly a triumph for feminism or liberalism.
The horror of abortion is also to be seen closer to home. The phenomenon of “designer babies” is one if the elements which horrifies me most. This year we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Special Olympics coming to Ireland.
That was an extraordinary occasion, which saw children and adults with intellectual disabilities and particularly Down Syndrome celebrated in this country like never before. In a sense it marked the end of marginalization and the beginning of a new era when people with special needs were finally embraced and celebrated like never before.
Many people will not like the juxtaposition of these two issues, but I believe in facing reality. In the United States, a country which initially introduced abortion in extremely limited circumstances, the use of pre natal screening is today absolutely prolific and increasingly acceptable in society.
There are many studies charting disturbing trends but one by F.X. Egan, of the University of Connecticut, showed that of the 122,519 babies expected to be born between 1989 and 2006, only 65,492 were in fact born. Almost 50% of those babies were simply obliterated, because they were not “perfect” whatever that means. I find this shocking and terrifying all at once.
This again shows that this question of abortion is not a liberal issue – far from it. In a liberal society we celebrate life in all its imperfect manifestations. We also celebrate the right of human beings to enjoy life – whether we speak of a criminal on death row, or an innocent baby girl, or a baby with Down syndrome. None of us is perfect, but our life is worthy and we a all worthy of life. Who is any one of us to determine that even one single life is not worth living, not worth protecting?
As I say, I did not stand for elected office to pursue a “pro life” agenda. Of course my view before all of the elections I have contested, was crystal clear, and often repeated on doorsteps in my constituency and on the airwaves. It was of course, no secret that my party, Fine Gael, was a party which unashamedly defended the right to life and issued repeated statements to that effect over the years, including stridently in advance of the last general election.
But I campaigned, as almost all politicians did in the last election, on a platform which was almost entirely focused on the economic future of our country. For me, and for Fine Gael, this was essentially a pro enterprise agenda, concerned with restoring our economic sovereignty, ensuring we emerge from the shackles of our bailout programme. It was about restoring confidence and hope to the Irish people, and doing so in the framework of crucial cooperation with our partners in the European Union.
In the two years and nearly 4 months since our Government was formed, this is what we in Fine Gael have dedicated ourselves to. Along with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and all of our Ministers, I have worked day and night to contribute to this country’s recovery. I certainly don’t want to give up on this work. We still have much to do.
The revelation of the Anglo tapes last week, reminded me of this. It minded me once again of the disease and rot at the heart of the system, which I want to contribute to changing.
But what of another type of rot – one which could enshrine in Irish law, for the first time ever, and in contravention of our express constitutional obligations, a hierarchy of human being in this State. One which says that we can select who deserves to live and who does not.
I’ve had people contact me in recent months condemning me for having a “moral” or ethical concern about abortion. Some demanded that I leave my morals or conscience aside in order to support abortion. Now I must say that I find this bizarre.
There is an emerging consensus in Ireland which suggests that having a sense of morality has something to do with the Catholic Church. It is automatically assumed that if you consult your conscience, you are essentially consulting with Rome. This is deeply worrying. It is a lazy way of attempting to undermine the worth of an argument, without actually dealing with the substance. This is not just a Catholic issue, any more than it is a Protestant or Muslim issue. This is not a religious issue. It is a human rights issue.
I wonder what one should consult when voting on a fundamental human rights issue such as this, if not ones own conscience? My personal view is that all I can do, when making a decision on life and death, and that is what we are considering here, is consult my conscience, which is based on my sense of what is right and what is wrong. What else can I consult? The latest opinion poll? The party hierarchy? The editor of the most popular newspaper?
I mentioned groupthink, which is a corrosive affliction in this country. We saw it in the Haughey era, we saw it during the Celtic Tiger era, and we see it on this question of abortion. It is easy to understand why people in positions of responsibility want thorny issues to simply disappear. It is far easier than risking conflict, unpopularity or worse; paying the price for speaking up…
Wouldn’t the country have been much better served in the 2000s, had more people on the Government benches, in academia, or in the media been prepared to raise their heads above the parapet? I am sure that there were many conscientious objectors who realised that what was happening was wrong, yet they all remained reticent to avoid the wrath of their colleagues, the public, their bosses, the media and so on. Conscience lost out, and the country suffered greatly.
We all have the right to conscientious objection. It is enshrined in Article 18 of the United Nations, Universal Declaration on Human Rights which states :
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion….”
I contend that this freedom of conscience is not just a right, but also a duty.
Substance of the Bill
Given my misgivings about this Bill, I am hoping that some substantive changes might be accepted to improve the legislation in order to make it more compatible with our constitutional obligations as legislators.
It is fair to say that sections 7 & 8 of the Bill do not cause me any concern. In fact I welcome the fact that we will be ensuring certainty for medical practitioners and pregnant women in the case that there is “a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother” in accordance with the test set down by the Supreme Court in the X Case.
It is right and proper that all women, including prospective mothers, can benefit from the very highest standard of care in Irish hospitals. No woman should lose her life through inaction during pregnancy. I hope and believe that we are all agreed on that. That is surely a pro life position.
However I am deeply concerned about the inclusion of the so called “suicide clause” in the legislation (section 9). This is, in my opinion, and in the opinion of the vast majority of psychiatrists in the country, is a very worrying step.
Not only does it fly in the face of the evidence presented at both hearings of the Oireachtas health committee, where the overwhelming view of the medical profession was that suicide could never provide a treatment or a solution to suicidal intent, but in addition, this clause has the potential to normalise suicidal ideation by enshrining suicide on our statute book for the first time.
The only way to avoid the introduction of this flawed element of the legislation is to omit it entirely from the Bill. I would urge Minister Reilly to to read and reflect upon the expert psychiatric evidence presented to the Heath Committee hearings. I would also ask him to study the joint statement endorsed by 113 Irish psychiatrists, who unanimously declared in an alarming but illuminating statement that the suicide clause is simply unworkable.
It seems from recent statements from Ministers, that the Government’s view is that there can be no term limit on the right to end a pregnancy by inducing delivery. In other words if a woman’s life is in danger, and the unborn baby is deemed to be viable, there is an obligation to bring forward delivery in order to save the life of the woman while making all efforts to also save the life of the baby.
This of course has the potential to cause major medical negligence litigation in the future. However, I do not propose to address that point here. Others have made that point cogently.
Further to this position, the Government has expressed the view that whether a pregnancy can be ended by means of an abortion depends on the gestational stage of the unborn child. In other words, if a foetus is viable then delivery has to be induced. An abortion is not permitted.
The clear result of all of this is an inherent term limit for abortion within the legislation. If this prohibition on abortion after viability is established, is assumed and indeed articulated publicly by the Government, then why not enshrine it in the legislation?
The leading authorities on Irish constitutional law, Hogan & Whyte in Kelly’s constitution (originally authored by former Fine Gael TD and Minister, Professor John Kelly) support this line of argument and go so far as to say it is “disingenuous” to suggest that the X case allows abortion up until the point of birth.
Logically and legally by this analysis, there is a constitutional term limit already in place, namely the point of viability outside the womb. Both Government and the leading academics agree on this point.
Given that there is agreement between the Government and the leading constitutional lawyers in the State, why should this not be expressly stated in the legislation? I am strongly of the view that an amendment to the legislation clarifying and confirming the legal term limit for the carrying out of an abortion is necessary. It is also perfectly constitutional and further I would argue that it is the absolute minimum protection necessary in a civilised country.
Such a provision would give a firm legal basis to what is already the interpretation of Government, and crucially would provide some reassurance to those citizens with concerns about the possibility of abortion up to full term (which does not exist in any jurisdiction to my knowledge – even regimes where liberal abortion on demand exists impose term limits).
Right to Vindicate constitutional rights of Unborn
I am entirely perplexed as to why the right to legal representation for the unborn is excluded from this legislation. It is the minimum protection required to be afforded to unborn children.
It is important to remember, at every step of this legislative process, that the unborn child is a human being, a person and has full rights as such under our Constitution. This means that as a “constitutional person” an unborn baby has the exact same right to life as any other living “constitutional person”.
I think this concept can sound a bit abstract to many people. They might ask, how on earth can an unborn baby, with no voice and no capacity, benefit from legal representation. However, in reality, and in the pursuit and vindication of human rights, this is nothing unusual.
A baby one day old can be represented in the courts, and this happens regularly, for example in medical negligence cases, through the “ad litem” procedure. Equally, a person of limited mental capacity can be represented in our courts, in order to have their rights vindicated.
When you think about it, this of course is not a luxury afforded to the most vulnerable people in our society. On the contrary, it is often the only way in which they have their constitutional and human rights vindicated in a world where otherwise they might suffer greatly.
I understand that some people do not believe that a foetus is a person and therefore that it has no legitimate expectation to have its constitutional rights vindicated. This is however simply an idealogical position. It is not borne out by the law or by our Constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann, which explicitly recognises it as a person, and therefore with the same and equal rights as all other people.
Now I can only assume that the logic behind this omission in the Bill is a view that legal representation is not warranted on the grounds that medical decision making does not warrant consultation with all parties
However, it is hard to think of any other “medical” decision where the rights of a third party (and not that of the patient) are directly affected, so surely legal representation is more (and not less) appropriate in these cases.
Decisions made under sections 7 and 8 of the Bill are purely medical decisions based on empirical evidence.
However, decisions made under section 9, relating to suicidality, are of a different nature. They involve judgments of credibility, veracity etc. by psychiatrists (and not simply empirical observation by doctors) and as a result the decisions should be detailed, forensic, investigative, and will inevitably take place over a period of days.
This difference in nature between the decisions to be made under sections 7&8 and those under section 9 was essentially the central point of former DPP Eamon Barnes’ recent article in the Irish Times
These decisions are also quasi-judicial in nature, because of the “panels” system, so surely the unborn should be represented
It is impossible to justify a situation whereby the unborn (a constitutional person) would be prohibited from being represented in front of these panels when grown adults (also constitutional persons) are entitled to such representation in front of similar such panels where decisions have a profound impact on their rights, for example in front of Mental Health Tribunals under the Mental Health Act 2001
Furthermore, it is arguable that the Attorney General has a constitutional obligation to act when there is a public interest in vindicating rights which are identified in the Constitution.
This is acknowledged in much case law as a “privileged role” of the Attorney General. The Supreme Court has specifically recognised this role in relation to Article 40.3.3 the right to life as per Judge Finlay in the X Case. This right or duty of the AG is inherent in the Constitution and therefore should be included in the Bill.
Furthermore, Under the Constitution all interested or potentially affected parties to a legal process must be given a right to express their point of view (i.e. the fundamental constitutional right of participation – audi alteram partem – both sides of any case must be heard).
This was reinforced recently by the Supreme Court itself in Dellway Investments Ltd. v NAMA (2011)
Clearly the right to life of the unborn is “capable of being directly affected in a material way” by a decision taken under section 9, under the formula given in Dellway.
Since this is a constitutional principle it is implied into all statutes. It seems likely that the legislation could be successfully challenged on the grounds that no specific mechanism is in place for the position of the unborn (a constitutional person) to be advocated or a means for them to vindicate their rights.
I have mentioned some key areas in which this legislation needs to be amended. I know that Minister Reilly has stated his intention to accept amendments during the committee stage. I take him at his word and assume this means substantive amendments based on evidence, and not just procedural ones.
If this Bill is to genuinely live up to its title “The protection of life during Pregnancy Bill” then it should simply aspire to do just that – provide protection to all lives – no more, no less. It must protect women who’s lives may be endangered during pregnancy, we expect and demand that this be be the case. It must also protect the life of babies in pregnancy. Otherwise the title will simply be misleading.
Ireland is a great country for mothers and babies, where the best possible care has been, and continues to be afforded. This Bill has the potential to change that, and to change the compassionate culture of care which have treasured for so long.
Before I conclude, I wish to read an email I received last night which sums up the essence of the problem with this Bill:
“Dear Ms Creighton,
“My name is Dr Y. I am a psychiatrist for the last ten years and I am also a woman and a mother. I have experienced both depression and pregnancy.
From all these perspectives I ask you to think long and hard before the vote on the “life on pregnancy” bill, and discuss your concerns with your party colleagues.
Suicidality is not an easy “diagnosis” to make. It is dynamic, not static, with the matters contributing to the suicidal state constantly changing. There is absolutely no test one can make to predict whether someone will die by suicide. Finding out one is pregnant for all the wrong reasons is a devastating life altering thing, but as human beings we try to help people adjust and make decisions in a clear frame of mind. Abortion has never ever been a treatment for suicidal ideation and completed abortion may end up being one of those dynamic factors that pushes someone to contemplate suicide. There is nothing so devastating as guilt to the depressed mind.
Two wrongs don’t make a right, please consider diverting energy and resources to supporting people with unwanted pregnancies, not pushing them down a path that may be detrimental to their mental health later when it is too late.
Thank you for reading this.
This sums up very well why this legislation as currently framed, is considered unworkable by so many experts. I have had countless emails and letters, such as this, from concerned psychiatrists in the past few weeks. I have not received one single letter from a psychiatrist welcoming this Bill or saying that it is necessary to deal with suicidal intent.
Compassionate, clinical care is what is needed and the government should put all possible resources into providing this for young, vulnerable women. Abortion solves nothing.
I know a number of women who had abortions and deeply regretted it. I genuinely do not know any woman who has had a baby and regretted it. No matter the circumstances, the initial stress, anxiety fear, stigma or concern, we must support women in their hour of need. That is simply our moral and constitutional duty.