Ireland’s pro-life status under siege again

Minister James Reilly

The “Special Relationship” between Ireland and the United States of America acquired a new dimension this week. Up until now, leaving aside the much vaunted ancestral roots of recent US Presidents Obama, Clinton, Reagan and Kennedy, –  its most significant manifestation was in the critical and effective commitment of President Clinton and other US political leaders to the ending of the 30 Years War in Northern Ireland. That saved countless lives, but the new manifestation might save hundreds of thousands of lives.

A group of pro-life US legislators have now weighed in on the abortion issue in Ireland where a pro-abortion party in the Irish coalition government is threatening to overturn provisions in the Irish Constitution which prohibit the practice in the state. The letter, addressed to the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, is urging him and his Fine Gael Party, to reject calls to overturn the country’s explicit constitutional protections for the unborn

The letter, signed by 16 Republican and one Democrat member of the US Congress, said they were concerned that the expert group, appointed by Health Minister James Reilly to present a report on abortion, included some who are pro-choice.

“The absence of experts of known pro-life views and the presence of some of known pro-abortion views were especially noted,” say the members of Congress.

Among those who signed the letter is Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado Springs. The letter is also signed by Trent Franks, a Republican Congressman from Arizona, who earlier this year sought to push through legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in the District of Columbia. The only Democrat signatory is Dan Lipinski, from Chicago, who co-sponsored a bill to prevent women from obtaining abortions on health insurance unless they had been raped.

Pro-life campaigners are delighted with this intervention. For months they have been campaigning to get the Fine Gael Party to honour is election promise not to allow legislation for abortion in the State. The pressure to do so is coming primarily – but not exclusively – from the Labour Party which is in coalition with Kenny’s Party. The Health Minister, who is a Fine Gael member, is widely suspected of being pro-abortion.

The letter from the US Congressmen raised questions about the government’s expert group, assembled by the Health Minister to make a recommendation on how to respond to a European Court of Human Rights ruling that Ireland must “clarify” its law. On the appointment of its members there was grave concern about the pro-abortion record of some of the members of the group. The letter said, “The composition of the expert group seems predisposed to issue recommendations that infringe on the right to life, rather than a simple clarification.” The 17 Congressmen say Ireland is “an example to the world” in refusing to create legalized abortion.

While a certain amount of huffing and puffing can be expected from pro-abortion politicians about what may be described as interference in Irish internal affairs, it will be difficult to sustain in the light of the very positive outcomes of such “interference” which brought the peace process to such a satisfactory conclusion. Besides, the language of the intervention is courteous and persuasive and leaves little room for complaints of arrogance.

Pro-life activists in Dublin allege that Health Minister Reilly has revealed his own pro-abortion bias by appointing the former head of Ireland’s equivalent of Planned Parenthood as the new head of Ireland’s Health Service Executive. He is Tony O’Brien, former Chief Executive of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) which is an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the world.

Niamh Uí Bhriain, of the Life Institute, welcoming the US Congressmen’s intervention said that, “Obviously those who have lived with the effects of Roe v. Wade for 40 years realise the enormity of the mistake Ireland would make if our government moves to legalise abortion.”

The Irish government, still trying to extricate the country from the economic disasters which have followed the near-collapse of its banking system would rather not have to deal with this issue but the European Court decision, brought about by very targeted legal actions funded by the pro abortion activists, leaves it with no alternative.  The opposition party, Fianna Fail, sees in this an opportunity to splinter the coalition in which ideological positions already offer ample grounds for conflict. It has said it will oppose any changes to the law. The Labour Party, junior partner in the coalition, is the only party that openly supports and promotes legalised abortion.

The drafting of the report of the expert group set up by the government is currently in its final stages. If this report does not offer as one of the options for settling the ECtHR demands, the holding of a new referendum on the Constitution which will give the Irish people the right to decide the matter then the political consequences could be far reaching. The possibility of the fall of the government and a general election cannot be ruled out. In economic terms this is the last thing anyone wants.

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