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Sunday, December 19, 2010

After the European Court of Human Right’s decision in
A B and C, where do we stand?

Dr. Joseph McCarroll PhD
Chairperson of the Pro Life Campaign

Our national office has been taking calls since yesterday’s European Court of Human Rights ruling in A, B and C v Ireland asking what it means, where do we go from here, and what steps do we need to be taking right now to progress the pro-life cause.

It’s important to make a couple of things clear – which may not have been clear from yesterday’s reporting of the decision.

Ireland does not have to legalise abortion because of the ruling

In the considered view of Professor William Binchy, the most important point is that the judgment does not require Ireland to introduce legislation authorising abortion.   On the contrary, it fully respects the entitlement of the Irish people to determine legal policy on protecting the lives of unborn children.

Article 40.3.3 says the State should pass laws protecting the unborn’s right to life.  We need to recall how we got here. In 1983, the Irish People voted to insert into the Irish Constitution Article 40.3.3 that said the State acknowledged the right to life of the unborn child as equal to the right to life of the mother. It also said the State ‘guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

Politicians didn’t bring in such laws, fearing pro-life voters at the polls and the pro-abortion voices in the media

But the Oireachtas since then did not bring in such laws - the politicians were unwilling to bring them forward. They were aware that a consistent majority among the general public wanted clear abortion laws so any politician taking an opposite view ran the risk of paying a high penalty in votes lost at the ballot box.

On the other hand, the politicians were also aware that the dominant voices in the media were largely pro-abortion, so politicians taking a pro-life view ran the risk of paying a high price on the box in the corner of the living room.

18 years on, the medical assumptions underpinning the Supreme Court’s decision in the X case are outdated.   It was left to the Courts to address the issue in the X case in 1992. In Professor Binchy’s words, “It is crucial to note that the judges in the X case heard no medical evidence.”   The evidence over the past 18 years contradicts the medical assumptions of the X case decision.[1]
In the years since the ruling, the evidence has steadily built up confirming the opposite of what the judges had assumed - women who have abortions are more likely to commit suicide than women who continue with their pregnancy.[2]

The Supreme Court’s X decision has to be revisited and revised.  To clear the way for the kind of laws protecting the unborn that Article 40.3.3 calls for, the Supreme Court’s medically out-of-date judgment of eighteen years ago has to be revisited and revised. Again, to quote Professor Binchy’s words,

“The Irish people must now make a choice. If they were to choose to endorse the Supreme Court decision in X, this would involve legalising abortion contrary to existing medical practice and the best evidence of medical research. If on the other hand, the Irish people choose to endorse the current medical practice, they will be ensuring the continuation of Ireland’s world-renowned safety record for mothers and babies during pregnancy.

Any revisiting of the X case decision would need to take on board the evidence from these new studies that abortion involves significant risks for some women. Based on the current state of medical evidence alone, it would be irresponsible simply to introduce legislation along the lines of the X ruling as it would put at risk the mother’s life as well as taking the baby’s”

So where does the pro-life community go from here?

Quite simply, we go to the politicians and let them know we are pro-life and that, in the forthcoming General Election, we will only be voting for Parties and Candidates with a clear public commitment that they will not introduce or support legislation providing for abortion to be carried out here.

Starting with … the Pro-Life Campaign’s initiative to send postcards to your local politicians.  Click here to send yours.

The political reality is this – the ECHR ruling is as was widely expected, and it was in anticipation of just such a ruling that the Pro Life Campaign started rolling out its political initiative to build up pressure on local politicians using postcards stating our voting intentions as pro-life voters.

Now that the decision is out and the election only months away, we need to redouble our efforts to see that everyone we know who is pro-life sends these postcards to their own local politicians.

This is how real political change comes about – by showing one local politician after another that there is a palpable dividend for them in giving you a public commitment to support your demand, and a political cost to failing to do so.

The Pro Life Campaign sees the A, B and C ruling as an opportunity for the pro-life community to bring home to their local politicians the breadth of pro-life commitment in their constituency. Coming only months before a General Election, it is an opportunity not to be missed.

To see Professor William Binchy’s Statement click here

To read and send our online postcard to your local politicians, click here

To donate to the Pro Life Campaign – we really need your support now more than ever, please click here

[1] [David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood and Joseph M. Boden, "Abortion and mental health disorders: evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study," British Journal of Psychiatry (2008), 2008, pp. 444-451. ‘Position Statement on Women’s Mental Health in Relation to Induced Abortion, Royal College of Psychiatrists’, UK (2008)]

[2] [Mika Gissler, Cynthia Berg, Marie Helene Bouvier-Colle and Pierre Buekens, ‘Injury deaths, suicides and homicides associated with pregnancy, in Finland, European Journal of Public Health 2005 15 (5): 459-463]

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