Irish media reported today that the first abortion has been carried out in a Dublin maternity hospital under its new law. The reports, it transpired, were inaccurate and a government agency spokesperson clarified in the course of the day that the law has not yet come into force. The significance of the reports, however, is that they show the blurring of the lines between what is ethical medical practice and the muddled practice that is likely to follow from this legislation and which may be anything but ethical.
The Irish Times once again enraged readers with its heavily nuanced report in which it was not difficult to detect, reading between the lines, its triumphal view that this was more evidence that the march of progress in Ireland was well under way.
The Pro Life Campaign (PLC) issued a statement in response to the reports. Dr Ruth Cullen, its chairperson, said: “While the precise circumstances surrounding the intervention in this tragic case are unknown, what is clear is that the Government’s abortion legislation permits doctors to blur the distinction between necessary life-saving interventions in pregnancy and induced abortion (where no effort whatsoever is made to save the life of the baby).
“Now that the blurring of such important ethical distinctions is permitted in law, it is inevitable that abortions directly and intentionally targeting the life of the unborn child will take place, even on the threat of suicide ground, where there is no medical evidence to justify an intervention.
“This is the stark reality of what members of the Oireachtas voted for recently and why the pro-life movement was so vocal in its opposition to the Bill.
“The new abortion law was not needed to safeguard women’s lives in pregnancy. The tragedy reported today of a mother losing two children has been used again to give the misleading impression that the recent abortion legislation was needed to safeguard women’s lives.
“The HSE confirmed today that the law has not yet come into force. On foot of this, one has to ask is The Irish Times suggesting that the law was broken by the doctors in Holles Street or does it now accept that the new law was not needed to protect women’s lives?
“In truth, life-saving interventions have always been in place. Ireland, without abortion, is a recognised world leader in safety for pregnant women. It is a tragedy that those campaigning for abortion legislation have been successful in creating the opposite impression,” she said.
Dr Cullen also expressed concern at the way The Irish Times today repeated the claim that Savita Halappanavar died because she was denied a termination of pregnancy.
“The Irish Times has obviously decided to ignore the conclusions of the coroner’s inquest into the tragic death of Savita and decided instead to stick rigidly to its original misleading presentation of what happened. This is most regrettable,” Dr Cullen concluded.