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Legal abortion comes to Ireland, riding a wave of falsehoods

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jul 12, 2013

In Ireland, as in the US, the legalization of abortion was accomplished by means of falsehoods. Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, was not raped, as she originally claimed. Sandra Cano, the named plaintiff in the companion Doe v. Bolton case, never even sought an abortion. Both women testify that they were manipulated by their lawyers. “Not only did I lie, but I was lied to,” McCorvey has stated.

In Ireland the event that triggered an avalanche of pro-abortion propaganda was the death of Savita Halappanavar. She died of septicemia, which her doctors did not detect in time. There is no record that she requested an abortion, let alone that doctors declined that request. If an abortion had been necessary in order to save her life, doctors could have performed it legally under existing Irish law. Nevertheless her death became the rallying-point for a massive campaign to end Ireland’s ban on abortion.

Writing in the Irish Independent, the perceptive David Quinn underlines the importance of this case:

A few days ago Justice Minister Alan Shatter perpetuated the myth. He said that Savita might well have been saved had the law been like the one they are about to pass.
But I would like to know what law would have caused Savita's medical team to spot the signs of sepsis on time?

For months Quinn and other pro-life voices in Ireland have been begging the media to publicize the facts of the Halappanavar case. To no avail. The myth—that she died because of restrictions on abortion—has prevailed, and strengthened support for the new law allowing abortion in cases when the mother’s life is in danger.

But, you might ask, didn’t Ireland’s laws already allow abortion if the mother’s life was in danger? Yes. There, too, the myth has prevailed over the facts. However the new law expands access to abortion by specifying that if a woman threatens suicide, her life is in danger. This policy invites abuse; it opens the way to legal abortion for any woman willing to claim that she is suicidal.

And by the way, if a woman really is suicidal, is there any evidence at all that abortion will be an appropriate medical intervention? Common sense suggests that the sudden and unnatural termination of a pregnancy—with the physical and psychological stress, the feelings of guilt and of separation, the disruption of bodily functions—would put additional burdens on a woman already in emotional distress. Many studies have shown a link between abortion and subsequent depression. True, proponents of abortion deny the validity of those studies. But here, without any supporting evidence, they make the far more ambitious claim that abortion is a cure for psychological problems!

As Ireland’s legislators moved toward the vote that would legalize abortion, journalists reported that the country’s Catholic bishops had threatened to excommunicate politicians who supported the bill. No such threat has been issued; that story, too, is simply false.

Still there were a few “excommunications” in this story line, as Quinn points out. Prime Minister Enda Kenny announced that he would not tolerate opposition to the abortion bill among his colleagues in the Fine Gael party. Lawmakers who opposed the bill were ousted from the party; a junior government minister, Lucinda Creighton, resigned her post to join the opposition.

So it was Kenny, not the Catholic bishops, who issued heavy-handed threats; it was Kenny who took reprisals against lawmakers who followed their consciences. Just a few years earlier, as a political candidate, Kenny had promised that his government would not legalize abortion in Ireland: one more in a long series of falsehoods.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 12, 2013 10:43 PM ET USA

    These things will continue to happen. The capitulations continue as ground is incrementally surrendered to those who will not have Him. The enduring must accommodate relentless change. Pilate's query proliferates; the centurian's timeless cry to his Lord recedes into the unsettling mist of a new dawn. The Church must project; Christ must reign. This is not hubris; it is a love set in motion by the enduring eternal love of our Good Lord.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jul. 12, 2013 9:14 PM ET USA

    Many Irish Americans may not know him, but Enda Kenny is one of the greatest hypocrites in Irish history. I was in Ireland during the manufactured hysteria concerning the Magdalene Laundry story. Kenny changed his stated position and did an about-face on TV, complete with teary contrition and an embarrassingly abject apology. Like Obama, Kenny has no shame and stoops to anything to get votes...even compromising his soul. His is a facile Catholicism mainly for show, one Satan can buy on the cheap