Ireland’s Abortion Bill Defeated

The Irish Parliament has rejected a bill by a 109-20 vote that was aimed at making abortion more widely available to its citizens. While the measure purports to only legalize abortion “for termination of pregnancy where a real and substantial risk to the life of the pregnant woman exists,” the bill’s sponsor, Clare Daly, of the opposition Socialist Party made it clear that the real goal is promoting easily accessible, legal abortion regardless of the circumstances.

“We believe that it is only a first step for abortion to be legalized in Ireland in all circumstances. We have waited long enough,” Ms. Daly said. “Over 100,000 Irish abortions have taken place in Britain for many different reasons, none of them easy, all of them valid. The hypocrisy, injustice and expense of having to travel to England for terminations, away from family and friends, is a disgrace.”

Abortion was officially legalized in Ireland in 1992 by the Courts but only for a few limited circumstances. Later governments have avoided passing legislation to carry out the order in the overwhelmingly Catholic country.

In December 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ireland’s failure to implement the existing constitutional “right” to abortion was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECHR has commissioned an expert report on how to respond to the failure to legislate.

Meanwhile, newly-elected Deputy Michelle Mulherin aptly points to extra-marital sex as the cause of many unwanted Irish pregnancies.

“Abortion is murder, therefore sin, which is the religious argument, is no more sinful, from a scriptural point of view, than all other sins we don’t legislate against, like greed, hate and fornication,” Ms. Mulherin said. “The latter, being fornication, I would say, is probably the single most likely cause of unwanted pregnancies in this country.”

Ms. Mulherin noted that even in difficult cases, choosing life is possible and bears witness to the grace of God.

“I’m against abortion in any form. The grace of God is so liberating and provides so many options to get the best out of life.”

Turtle Bay and Beyond is a blog covering international law, policy and institutions. Our experts - at the UN, European Institutions, and elsewhere - explore an authentic understanding of international law, sovereignty, and the dignity of the human person. We expose those who would seek to impose a radical social vision that is contrary to these principles.

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