Why abortion pill should not be the answer in handling crisis pregnancy
If you support making the abortion pill available in Ireland, then you support abortion-on-demand. You can no longer say you support abortion only when the mother's life is in danger, or when her baby has a fatal foetal abnormality.
If you think the abortion pill should be easily available from chemists in Ireland, then you support abortion for any reason whatsoever.
The campaigners who arrived in Connolly Station in Dublin earlier this week having obtained abortion pills in the North, would make no bones about this. They had ordered the pills via the internet, had them delivered to addresses in the North, and then travelled up North and collected them. They arrived back in Connolly Station and then popped a few of the pills for the waiting photographers. The women were consciously copying feminists of an earlier generation who went up North on another train in 1971 to buy condoms and openly flout our anti-contraception laws at the time. They too, arrived back at Connolly Station to show what they had done, and to much greater fanfare.
One of the feminists on the 'contraceptive train' in 1971 was Mary Kenny. Writing in this paper on Wednesday, Mary said there was no comparison between what she and her fellow campaigners had done then, and what happened this time around. Mary said there is a world of difference between a piece of rubber and a pill intended to destroy a human life. The abortion pill campaigners would argue that in both cases, the intention is to let women control their own fertility, but again there is a big difference between preventing pregnancy and deliberately ending a human life. The pro-abortion pill campaign is conducted in the certain knowledge that it can only be made legal if the pro-life amendment to our Constitution, the eighth amendment, is repealed.
Last year's abortion bill was able to use the X case Supreme Court decision of 1992 to permit abortion whenever a pregnant woman is deemed to be 'suicidal'.
However, the Bill could go no further because of the eighth amendment. Two issues are being exploited by pro-choice campaigners to force through another abortion referendum.
The first is the fact that women whose babies are going to die within days of birth cannot have an abortion here, and the second is the fact that Irish women are already buying the abortion pill illegally.
Pro-choicers argue that we should simply repeal the eighth to allow fatally-handicapped babies to be aborted here, and to allow the abortion pill to be obtained legally. But once you repeal the eighth, we would very quickly have abortion-on-demand, so a referendum on the eighth would in fact be a referendum on introducing an abortion law ultimately as permissive as Britain's, where almost 200,000 abortions take place every year.
Ponder that figure for a moment. According to a recent BBC documentary, a British woman has about a one in four chance of having an abortion at some point in her lifetime. This brings us to a very paradoxical aspect of the 'abortion train' stunt the other day. One of the big arguments in favour of legalising contraception when the 'contraceptive train' came to a halt in Connolly Station in 1971 was that we would reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.
The British abortion figure, the 4,000 or so Irish women who travel to England each year for abortions, and the campaign to legalise the abortion pill here shows that hasn't happened even remotely. On the contrary, there are millions of abortions around the world every single year.
Why is this so? How can it be that contraception would make the number of unwanted pregnancies go up instead of down?
The reason is that the widespread and unrestricted availability of contraception persuaded people that they could categorically sever the idea of having sex from the idea of having children.
But in the real world things often don't work out that way. For many couples who don't want children, a pregnancy still occurs because in the real world, there is a high failure rate for all forms of contraception. The Centre for Disease Control in the US, for example, tells us that under typical circumstances, 18pc of couples who use a condom over the space of a year can expect to experience a pregnancy.
Abortion then becomes the back-up, the insurance policy for those who don't want to have children. This is not, by the way, an argument in favour of prohibiting contraception again, as if there would ever again be public demand to do such a thing. But it is an argument in favour of properly analysing what is going on. The answer can't be more contraceptive education because England is awash with that. Instead, we need to consider a statistic such as this: in England and Wales a married woman is about a quarter as likely to have an abortion as an unmarried woman. That is because a married woman is much more likely to have planned the baby, or if not, is ready with her husband to raise the baby anyway. Therefore, the separation of sex from commitment (never mind marriage) which the widespread availability of contraception has permitted, is what has created so many unwanted children and driven up our abortion rate.
So the arrival of the 'abortion train' into Dublin this week reveals that the promise that the widespread availability of contraception would take care of unwanted pregnancies has been broken comprehensively and categorically. We need to find some other ways to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and the best way to do that is to encourage commitment.