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Patricia Casey: 'Killing pre-born children will be recognised as an atrocity one day'

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Fighting on:  Pro-life campaigners outside Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin, on Wednesday. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Fighting on: Pro-life campaigners outside Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin, on Wednesday. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Fighting on: Pro-life campaigners outside Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin, on Wednesday. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

The new abortion law in Ireland commenced on January 1. If the numbers that were reported as seeking abortion in Britain are replicated here, then since its first day last Tuesday, 40 to 50 pre-born babies will already have had their lives ended.

Our country's name will be added to the list of those contributing to the loss of life by abortion worldwide. It has been reported by independent data-collecting site Worldometers to be the number one cause of death worldwide in 2018. At over 41 million annually, it exceeds the combined number of deaths from cancer, smoking, HIV/AIDS, alcohol and traffic accidents. These are monumental numbers and if they were described for any other medical intervention they would cause international outrage. But because the victims are voiceless, vulnerable people, they are excused. What greater affront to human rights can there be than the taking of the life of the weak by the strong with impunity, simply because they can?

A few days ago, I saw an advertisement on the side of a London bus promoting veganism. It showed a cute little piglet with a tagline: "I'm someone, not something."

So, when is a pre-born baby someone, not something? For many worldwide, it simply is because human life has begun. It is not animal or insect life but a process that will culminate in the birth of a human being.

Such logic was not evident in the comments of Leo Varadkar, our Taoiseach and a doctor, when asked if, when treating a pregnant woman, he would have one or two patients. He said it would depend on the woman, being two if the baby was wanted and one if unwanted.

The piglet in the promotional picture arguably has more rights than the developing human child, according to the world view of Varadkar and his acolytes. The consequence of his feat of absurdity is to reduce the pre-born human to a non-person, based on their wantedness. Once this happens then anything, no matter how grotesque or cruel, is possible and can be allowed.

It is this mindset, embedded in a view that sees pre-born life in its essence as arbitrary, which gave permission to TDs to vote against pain relief during late-term abortions. Even animals being slaughtered are stunned before they are killed but not the human in utero.

GPs carrying out abortions are being incentivised with much higher payments (€400) than those offering pre-natal care (€280) because in the dystopian perspective of Health Minister Simon Harris and most of our politicians, getting rid of a clump of cells, a non-person, is more important work than caring for a woman carrying a developing baby.

And the 'it's only a clump of cells' argument was used to shout down those claiming that some women might develop mental health problems after the event, and perversely allowing mental health to be one of the grounds for seeking abortion despite the evidence that it does not prevent mental health problems.

One of the remarkable things about the drive for abortion worldwide is that it is hailed as "progressive" and in the Western world is seen almost exclusively in terms of women's rights. But the early feminists vehemently opposed abortion.

Beginning in 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft, whose book/pamphlet 'A Vindication of the Rights of Women' inspired the beginnings of organised feminism in both Europe and the US, saw abortion not as an assertion of woman's power but an indicator of her powerlessness.

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first American woman to earn an MD (Doctor of Medicine). Having learnt that one Madame Restell was carrying out abortions in New York, Blackwell felt impelled to pursue a career in medicine. She wrote in her diary: "The gross perversion and destruction of motherhood by the abortionist filled me with indignation and awakened active antagonism."

Others include Victoria Woodhull, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Isabella Beecher Hooker (a friend of the British philosopher John Stuart Mill).

One feminist, Eliza Duffey, initially saw no harm in abortion as the foetus was not truly a human life, but changed when "I became thoroughly acquainted with sexual physiology and comprehended the wonderful economy of nature in the generation of the human germ".

Sylvia Pankhurst, a British campaigner for women's suffrage, wrote in a 1930 essay entitled 'Abortion': "Increasing numbers of people argue that…therefore the law should permit abortion provided it is done under state supervision with strict aseptic precautions….

"The true mission of society is to provide the conditions, legal, moral, economic and obstetric which will assure happy and successful motherhood."

History's darkest moments have happened when people failed to recognise other human beings as persons and so deprived them of fundamental rights and privileges.

In North America, Natives were considered as non-persons, referred to as savages, in order to provide justification for the appropriation of land. Slaves, they were considered to be the property of their owner to be used and disposed of as desired throughout Europe and the United States.

The Persons Act, Canada, 1891, declared that "women are not persons in the matter of rights and privileges". History, it seems, is repeating self and the unborn in our law have been stripped of rights and privileges.

But just as the slaves were freed and just as America recognised its terrible treatment of the indigenous people, the mass killing of pre-born children will be also recognised for the atrocity that it is.

As Booker T Washington, a slave who was granted freedom and became a human rights activist, wrote in his autobiography 'Up from Slavery', "A lie doesn't become truth, wrong doesn't become right, and evil doesn't become good, just because it's accepted by a majority."

Irish Independent