Abortion in Ireland: the threat of maternal suicide is effectively abortion on demand
Apparently, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been sent gruesome plastic foetuses and letters written in blood by hysterical pro-lifers protesting against the introduction of 'life-saving' abortion in the predominantly Roman Catholic Republic. The new law was passed after a fierce two-day debate in the Dáil by 127 votes to 13 - a colossal and conclusive majority of 114 - and permits abortion on limited grounds, specifically when a woman's life is in danger or if she feels suicidal.
The new law does not permit termination in cases of rape, incest or disability.
Enda Kenny is reportedly a devout Roman Catholic himself, and there have been veiled threats of excommunication from sundry cardinals and bishops for his obstinate disobedience. The threat won't, of course, be implemented, any more than British or American Roman Catholic politicians have been removed from ecclesiastical society for supporting such grave offences as embryo research or same-sex marriage. In so many of these ethical life issues, moral delinquency is tolerated, sin is fudged, and 'co-operating with evil' patently entertained.
The curious thing is that around 11 Irish women cross the sea to Britain every day to terminate their pregnancies, and this death trail is perfectly legal. You don't hear much about it from any church. Department of Health figures released yesterday indicate that about 4000 Irish women came to Britain in 2012 to terminate their pregnancies. They included 124 girls under the age of 18.
That is to say that the prohibition on abortion in Ireland does not actually deter Irish women from having abortions; it simply means they have to fork out around £1000 and sort out travel and accommodation across the Irish Sea. And the burden of medical provision then shifts to UK clinics and hospitals. Ergo, Irish women who want to terminate their babies on the grounds of rape, incest or disability will continue to do so in England, Wales or Scotland.
It doesn't take a genius to foresee the likely court cases and judicial activism which are sure to follow this legislation. It is inevitable that human rights lawyers will agitate first in Ireland's Supreme Court and then in the European Court of Human Rights to challenge a perversely restrictive national law which prevents poor Irish women from terminating their babies, while the relatively rich can go private in the UK. Why should impoverished inner-city Dubliners be criminalised and face 14 years in prison, while the Limerick rich pop their abortion pills with impunity at Marie Stopes in Harley Street?
And what if the destitute mother, in a state of profound distress and emotional turmoil, then threatens to kill herself?
What doctor is going to proffer a tissue and tell her rather sternly to wipe her eyes and pull herself together? Who will assess the likelihood of suicide? How will the credibility of the threat be evaluated, and, should the woman be well into her second trimester, over what period of monitoring?
What if the pregnant woman is simply a persuasive diva? Doctors can easily be fooled - even in pairs - as we have seen incrementally in the UK following the Abortion Act 1967. Who are they to judge a woman's mental state or her subjective assessment of the extent of foetal abnormality? If all the world's a stage, what desperate Irish actress won't 'stop up th' access and passage to remorse' and smear her doctor's conscience with her baby's blood in order to secure its termination?
Is the utterly believable Stanislavski threat of suicide about to open Ireland's floodgates to abortion on demand?