During the debate some deputies made important pro-life interventions one of which is reprinted in full below. This intervention was made by the Independent Deputy Mattie Mc Grath
I am pleased to be able to speak to the Bill today. I compliment all speakers to date. I watched the entire debate last night. Every elected Member is entitled to come to the House. It is incumbent on Members to come to the House and voice the views they hold on this very difficult and delicate issue. It has been a passionate issue during the past 25 years and long beforehand. It is not black and white and it is remarkably difficult for all involved, especially for the women, sometimes young women, and their partners, close family and friends.
I welcome the fact that the Government has set up the expert group. I am fundamentally and totally opposed to abortion except in extremely necessary cases which are life-threatening. This much is already in legislation.
There are 14 members in the expert group. We must all hope, believe and have faith in the ability of the group to examine thoroughly the implications of the cases with which they must deal. Those involved are suitably qualified and they were appointed on the basis of their qualifications. They must deal with the terms of reference of the A, B and C v. Ireland case under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Seán Ryan. We should wait until the report is issued and then hold a further reasonable and continued debate if necessary.
The life of the mother already takes precedence and rightly so. It is an emotive issue now, as it has always been. I thank the many people who contacted me from throughout the country and I thank those of all views who have contacted all of us. It is important that they contact us and that we respectfully listen to all sides.
I have spoken to medical experts and listened carefully to the contributions of Deputy Tom Barry and others. The unfortunate reality is that there have been and can be incorrect diagnoses. It was heart-rending to hear about the case to which the Deputy referred. We cannot open the floodgates in regard to abortion. Every child is special and a precious gift from God. I was quite taken aback at Deputy Clare Daly’s reference to this Bill in the context of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill. There is no comparison whatsoever to be made in that regard.
The sponsors of the Private Members’ Bill argue that the State is obliged to legislate for abortion on foot of the recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in A, B and C v. Ireland. That position is entirely false. The judgment does not require Ireland to introduce legislation for abortion. On the contrary, it fully respects the entitlement of the Irish people to determine legal policy on protecting the life of the unborn. The legislation we are discussing is based on the 1992 Supreme Court decision in the X case. Although my colleagues and I in the Technical Group work together, we all have different views on issues and can speak and vote as we wish. As such, I intend to oppose this Bill.
Any revisiting of the X case decision must take on board the evidence from new studies that abortion involves significant risk for women. In fact, the evidence over the past 20 years contradicts many of the medical assumptions on which that decision was made. On the basis of current medical evidence alone, it would be irresponsible to introduce legislation in accordance with the ruling in the X case. To do so would put at risk the life of the mother as well as ending that of the unborn child. The suggestion that pregnant women are denied necessary medical treatment because of the pro-life ethos in this country is simply untrue. In fact, Ireland is a world leader when it comes to the safety of pregnant women. For example, the latest United Nations report on the safety of mothers during pregnancy found that of all 172 countries for which estimates were given, Ireland is out in front. We have a great many problems in our health service, but this is a wonderful achievement.
Supporters of the Bill seem to be wilfully disregarding this important evidence. Many of those pushing for abortion act as though they alone speak for women going through unwanted pregnancies. However, the research from which they quote and the persons on whose behalf they choose to speak are quite selective. To be fair, that is probably true of both sides in this argument. The supporters of this proposal certainly do not speak for the thousands of women who contemplated taking their advice but changed their mind and now cannot believe they ever considered taking the life of the children they adore. We have heard from people in that situation and we see how brave they are. Nor do the supporters of this proposal speak for the thousands of women who took their advice and now deeply regret the decision to have an abortion. The emergence of groups such as Women Hurt further undermines the pro-choice claim that there are no negative consequences of abortion. Of course there are negative consequences, as there are with most decisions.
This Bill is premature in a context in which the expert group is already at work. I accept that there was a vacuum for a long time and that successive Governments failed to address it. We are dealing with a very difficult issue and I would be the first to admit that women are more entitled to speak about it and more likely to understand all of the issues than I ever could be. I am merely doing my humble best to represent my own views to this Parliament. It is incumbent on me to do so and, as such, I will be voting against the Bill.