Pro-life amendment in Irish constitution under threat

Pro-life amendment in Irish constitution under threat

Pro-life amendment in Irish constitution under threat

The Irish flag is seen in late March on top of the General Post Office in Dublin. (Credit: Aidan Crawle/ EPA via CNS.)

Ireland's Constitution includes an 8th amendment, which protects life from conception. Now the country is preparing to hold a referendum which could repeal the amendment, and legalize abortion in the Catholic-majority nation.

[Editor’s Note: Cora Sherlock is the spokesperson for Pro-Life Campaign Ireland, and working to preserve the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which protects the right to life. The future of the amendment is in doubt, after a ‘Citizen’s Assembly’ recommended changing the constitution to allow legalized abortion in Ireland. Sherlock spoke to Charles Camosy about the efforts to protect the 8th Amendment in Ireland.]

Camosy: Not everyone In the U.S. is aware of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution. What should those who fall into that category know?

Sherlock: The text of the 8th Amendment is, “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

In essence, the Amendment recognizes that the unborn baby has the same rights as any human being does regardless of age, color, creed, or any other distinguishing factor. The 8th Amendment is all about equality.

Pro-choice advocates like to spread the myth that the pro-life movement thinks the rights of the baby should take precedence over the mother, but this is simply not true: The 8th Amendment is a legal protection for both mother and baby equally.

It can happen that the baby is lost as a side-effect of necessary medical treatment during the pregnancy, which is obviously tragic for all affected. But the crucial difference is that in this scenario, the loss of the baby is an unwanted side-effect of treatment. An abortion, on the other hand, is the intentional ending of the baby’s life. An abortion has no other aim but to end the baby’s life.

But that law is currently under attack, and you are on the front lines of defending it. Can you fill us in on what is happening?

We are currently in the middle of a cross-party Government Committee, which can only be described as part two of a process set up to pave the way to a referendum to remove the Eighth Amendment.

Part one was the Citizens’ Assembly, held during a handful of weekends in 2016 and early 2017 when 99 members of the public were given the briefest of introductions to this life and death issue, and then expected to provide recommendations to the government on the best way forward.

Cora Sherlock, senior spokesperson with the Pro Life Campaign in Ireland. (Credit: C. Sherlock.)

Given that the Assembly organizers never invited those who have the greatest testimony to give – families who say their children are alive thanks to the Eighth Amendment – it was no wonder the final report recommended the introduction of abortion on wide-ranging grounds.

Now that we are on part two, things are no better. The government committee will complete its work and finalize its report on 20th December, but its dealing of the matter has been imbalanced and biased from the very beginning.

Instead of inviting an equal number of pro-life and pro-repeal witnesses to give evidence to the politicians on the committee, the committee invited 24 speakers who are on record as saying that they think the Eighth Amendment should be repealed or removed, as opposed to just four who would speak in favor of keeping the provision.

Then, just three weeks into the twelve weeks of hearings, the committee voted not to retain the Eighth Amendment in full, demonstrating that it had no interest in hearing from all witnesses before making a decision.

When it dawned on some committee members how poorly it looked to have voted before the process concluded, they scrambled to issue late in the day invitations to pro-life speakers in an attempt to gloss over the vote, and the appallingly skewed line-up of speakers that the committee had invited.

In another disgraceful move, when the two additional pro-life speakers that were invited declined the offer, citing the abortion vote that had taken place, committee members publicly attacked them for not accepting the invitation.

The same committee members didn’t draw attention to the very legitimate reasons the pro-life individuals gave for not accepting the invitation. Clearly, they were being invited to present not because the committee wanted to listen to their expert opinion but because the committee wanted to use them to give cover for the one-sided way they had conducted themselves.

This is no way to conduct a discussion on any subject, and certainly not on a life and death issue like abortion.

I’ve heard there is an American connection here. Is that true?

Yes. International abortion lobby groups have been flown in using the public purse and invited to address both the Citizens’ Assembly and the government committee.

We’ve heard from the Guttmacher Institute and the Center for Reproductive Rights which is openly fundraising abroad to repeal the Eighth Amendment in Ireland.

There’s also the issue of funding from George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. In 2016, it was revealed that the Foundation had given money to Irish groups the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC), Amnesty Ireland the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood Federation.

As a result, the ARC returned the money, but given the involvement of the CRR in the government committee, the specter of overseas interference in the Irish abortion debate continues.

But some say they are just supporting good health outcomes for Irish women.

Abortion is not healthcare for mother or baby. Abortion is life-ending, not life-saving.

Ireland is one of the safest places in the world in which to be pregnant and we don’t need abortion to keep women healthy. This is what Ireland has proved over many years because fewer women die here than in countries where abortion is legal.

Abortion advocates have tried and failed to prove that we need abortion here to keep women safe.

Is there anything Crux readers can do to support your efforts?

Readers of Crux can continue to help spread the word that Ireland is not a dangerous place in which to be pregnant. This is a dangerous myth because it gives a license to abortion advocates to attack the Eighth Amendment which is responsible for saving tens of thousands of lives in Ireland.

Please keep in touch with pages like Pro-Life Campaign Ireland and the Love Both Project where you can hear about the ongoing campaign to defend and preserve Ireland’s life-saving Eighth Amendment.

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