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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Why external organisations must not be allowed to tell Ireland how to protect its most vulnerable ... by Cora Sherlock

We’ve become quite used to various prochoice groups in Ireland chanting their slogan “repeal the 8th” as if it were a mantra for a new, enlightened time rather than a means to erase the basic right to life of an entire group of human beings from our Constitution.

But recent events have shown a new, sinister development – the emergence of external groups who are trying to influence the Irish Government on whether or not to hold a referendum on abortion.

Last week was a prime example of this. The UN Human Rights Committee criticised Ireland’s abortion laws, saying that they are “cruel, inhuman and degrading” according to Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The UNHRC has a shocking record when it comes to protecting human beings damaged by abortion. It has never taken countries like England and Canada to task for the appalling abuse of denying medical treatment to babies who survive abortion.  It ignores the rights of these babies not to be subjected to “torture” as outlined in Article 7. In its remarks last week, this same Human Rights Committee didn’t bother mentioning the fact that Article 6 of the ICCPR states that “Every human being has an inherent right to life.”

The bottom line is that the UN Human Rights Committee is more and more becoming a parody of a group that is genuine about its commitment to the protection of human beings.  It no longer speaks from a strong foundation of human rights protection.  The Irish Government should not feel pressured to adhere to its commandments.  Yes, it’s true that we signed up to the ICCPR but we didn’t sign up to be beaten into submission on the issue of protecting the right to life of unborn human beings by a group that no longer respects the intrinsic dignity and worth of every human being living in our society.

Let’s move on to look at the group that helped this complaint make its way to the UNHRC – the Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR).  This is a global abortion lobby group.  The only reason for its existence is to introduce abortion where no abortion takes place.  Its website even has an interactive map highlighting how far individual countries have “progressed” towards the CRR’s ultimate goal of unrestricted abortion (Ireland is coloured "red", presumably because we're not playing ball).

It goes without saying that the Irish Government should not be swayed or influenced by this international, well-funded and focused lobby group.   But the fact remains that the CRR was in Dublin last week, supported by a number of prochoice groups as it pushed forward with its global agenda and causing a media frenzy that continued for several days.  

Why should we, the Irish public, care about the intentions of a foreign abortion lobby group that acts in this way, helping to bring a complaint to the UNHRC against the Irish Constitution?  The answer of course is that we shouldn’t.  Just as we shouldn’t care about the interference of the UNHRC which produced a report that resulted in an appalling criticism of matters that have been decided by the Irish public. 

In an even more brazen attack on our right to decide such sensitive matters for ourselves, the UNHRC produced a “Questions and Answers” session on its website, presumably to reassure anyone in Ireland who might feel a bit uncomfortable about being told that we have to give up on this wild notion we have that human lives shouldn’t be ended – even when a “Human Rights Committee” tells us otherwise. 

When asked whether the UNHRC were “telling Ireland to introduce abortion”, one of the Committee members, Sarah Cleveland said that “with respect to the Irish electorate”, the Committee had been presented with different perspectives on the opinions of the Irish public.

But here’s the problem – the UNHRC seems to have forgotten that it’s the Irish electorate who decides the laws of this country.  Not the UNHRC.  Not the CRR. And these comments, not to mention the entire report, show a complete disregard for the will of the People when it concerns the protection of unborn human beings, enshrined in the Constitution.  We’re relegated into the place of second class citizens behind these groups that claim to tell us how to protect human rights in our country.

Of course, we shouldn’t pay too much heed to the comments.  After all, in the very next sentence of this reply, Ms. Cleveland expounds on what is perhaps one of the best explanations of why the right to life must be protected, regardless of campaigns to remove it:

“But fundamentally, human rights are not the subject of public opinion polls.  Human rights exist precisely to protect individuals whose rights may not be adequately respected by the majority.”

Luckily in Ireland, we’ve known this for some time.  Since 1983 to be exact, when we took steps to acknowledge the rights of vulnerable human beings in Irish society and enshrined the 8th Amendment in the Constitution. It is now vital that the Irish Government remembers the importance of this act and stands firm against any attempts to initiate a referendum, particularly those that originate outside the State from international lobby groups or UN Committees that are human rights protectors in name only. 

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