The stark choice, a choice in which each one faces a lifetime of guilt depending on the decision made, now confronts Ireland’s elected representatives. The voices of reason, experience and compassion are loud and clear. The Irish Government has refused to listen to them. It now remains to be seen if the joint houses of the Irish parliament will rubber stamp a proposed law which will put unborn babies and their mothers at the mercy of unscrupulous medical practitioners. The evidence from across the world shows that there is no shortage of these in every jurisdiction. Why would Irish politicians think that the situation would be any different there?
It’s is now all down to conscience and the letter from a good nun which appeared in yesterday’s Irish Times speaks clearly to the consciences of every Irish man and woman – but above all to each and every elected representative who will have to get up from his seat in the chamber next July and walk to the division lobby. On that day they will take Ireland across a Rubicon. What that journey will lead to is in their hands. Sr. Consilio Fitzgerald is very clear about what their choice involves. Would that they were all so clear. She writes,
Many of the distressed women who came to Cuan Mhuire over the past 50 years, came because they were suffering distress having undergone an abortion. Our mission at Cuan Mhuire is to help them understand their own goodness and their infinite value before God. They tell us of the difficulties they encountered at the time of their decisions. Despite all of our support and encouragement to help them rebuild their lives and relationships, many find it exceedingly difficult – almost impossible – to cope with their sense of loss.
It has long been accepted practice in Ireland that there are rare occasions where intervention may be necessary to save a mother’s life. This sometimes results in the unintended death of the child. This causes deep grief for the parents but mothers intuitively understand the reasons and may come to accept them.
The Government seeks to make abortion available in Ireland on the grounds of a “threat of suicide”. Medical and psychiatric evidence does not indicate abortion as an appropriate treatment for suicidal tendencies. In my experience abortion has never proved to be the appropriate response to the threat of a suicide. On the other hand we have helped many, many women who had abortions and had subsequently developed suicidal tendencies. Many of them did not really understand the consequences of an abortion and the devastation it causes. They needed love and care and non-judgmental support.
We – all of us – will have to live with our conscience if we allow, or acquiesce, in the enactment of this legislation. It is for this reason that all political representatives should be free to follow their individual conscience in deciding how to vote. Our medical, nursing and midwifery professions are central to the values, loving culture and quality of our society. They have long protected the right of an unborn child to live and fulfil God’s plan. Let us recall the words of Christ: “What does it prophet a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul”.
I am writing this letter – the first such letter I have ever written – in defence of the unborn child and the welfare of the mother. Also, I will know on my death bed that I have done all that I can to speak out on their behalf and on behalf of so many more were such legislation to be enacted in our name by our political representatives.