David Quinn: Didn't I warn you that a vote for Labour was a vote for abortion?
Published 30/11/2012 | 17:00
IN the run-up to the general election last year, I wrote a column that was headlined "Any vote for the Labour party is a vote for abortion". I was roundly attacked for this by, among other people, Michael D Higgins.
But subsequent events have fully vindicated what I wrote at that time. Labour is pushing hard to permit abortion in Ireland on the grounds of the X Case, and members of the party including the likes of Ivana Bacik and Ciara Conway, want to go even further than this.
However, what I did not know when I cast my vote last year is that a vote for Fine Gael could soon turn out to have been a vote for abortion as well.
One reason I did not believe a vote for Fine Gael would lead to abortion in Ireland is because Fine Gael released a statement just prior to the election and the first line read simply and clearly: "Fine Gael is opposed to the legalisation of abortion."
If that is so, how can Enda Kenny possibly contemplate standing over a law that will allow abortion under the terms of the X Case?
Let's remember that the law as it stands already allows pregnancies to be ended when there is no other way to save the life of the mother.
In the case of Savita Halappanavar we simply do not know if bringing her pregnancy to an early end was the only thing that would save her life.
But if it was, then Irish law already permits a termination in such a scenario.
Nor does this violate any kind of medical ethics. Bringing a pregnancy to an early end when that is the only way to save a pregnant woman is not considered an abortion in the moral sense of that term because it is a last resort.
The intention is not to kill the baby, and the baby will die no matter what.
However, the X Case goes beyond this. It permits a termination of pregnancy when a woman is feeling suicidal.
In this scenario it stretches credulity past breaking point to say that the only way to relieve the suicidal feeling is to kill the unborn child. For a start, it is likely that the real cause of the woman's suicidal feelings is some underlying depression and not the pregnancy itself.
Secondly, as psychiatrist Anthony McCarthy told 'News At One' earlier this week, sometimes an abortion in such a scenario might actually make things worse, not better, for a woman.
Finally, when there are alternative means of helping a pregnant woman who is feeling suicidal other than a termination, it simply cannot be said that her baby is going to die no matter what. Both it and the mother can be saved.
Therefore, terminating a pregnancy in such a case is unethical and is an abortion in the full moral sense of that term.
This is quite apart from the fact that a law permitting abortion when a woman is feeling suicidal is wide open to abuse and will almost certainly lead over time to widespread abortion in Ireland.
When David Steel liberalised Britain's abortion law in 1967, he introduced the proviso that an abortion could only be performed on "health" grounds if two doctors consented.
In practice, it is so easy to find two doctors to consent that roughly one pregnancy in five ends in abortion in Britain.
Steel thought this would never happen. It did. The law is completely abused. It could easily happen here too. Fine Gael and Enda Kenny also need to seriously consider the politics of this. When Fine Gael opposed the pro-life amendment of 2002, it suffered grievously in the subsequent election.
This is not the only reason or even the main reason why it suffered.
AT an absolute minimum there was absolutely no electoral dividend for opposing that amendment, and all the Fine Gael TDs who were most actively against it lost their seats, including Alan Shatter.
Following the Shatter line on this will have deadly consequences for many Fine Gael TDs at the next election. Pro-life voters – and there are still plenty of them – will not forget it if Fine Gael permits Labour to introduce abortion to Ireland, as distinct from genuinely life-saving treatment, which is already available here.
If Fine Gael does pave the way for abortion, the only proper response from pro-life Fine Gael voters will be to vote only for those Fine Gael TDs who are clearly pro-life and who are willing to lose the party whip if and when this goes to the vote.
Enda Kenny has a fateful decision to make. If he simply codifies existing practice he will meet little or no opposition.
But if he goes further than that he will be remembered as the Taoiseach who introduced the direct killing of unborn children to Ireland only weeks after the passage of a referendum that supposedly protects the rights of children.
Is this really how he wants to be remembered?