The Irish Times August 13th in its letter page published a letter from John Baker and a group of academics demanding that the Government should legislate for abortion based on the X case, suggesting that access to abortion is necessary for women’s health and decrying the fact that some Fine Gael TD’s had the temerity to oppose Minister James Reilly’s stated intention to do so. The letter also incredibly claims that the people of Ireland voted in favour of the introduction of abortion in the last two referendums.
Their letter however is simply pro-abortion propaganda. These people know perfectly well that access to abortion is not and never has been essential to women’s health and that Ireland without abortion has consistently been one of the safest places for women to have their babies, much better in fact than the UK which has a very liberal abortion regime.
The letter also conveniently ignores the human rights of unborn babies the most vulnerable members of our society and the vital distinction between the direct and intentional taking of the life of the unborn – which is what the term “abortion” refers to – and the indirect and unintended death of an unborn baby which may occur during a procedure carried out to save the life of an expectant mother.
The view of the last two referendums expressed in the letter is erroneous, the decision of the people in both referendums was clearly for the protection of life not the introduction of abortion and the attack on the Fine Gael deputies who are exercising their democratic right to vote in accordance with their consciences is nonsensical. No referendum in Ireland has ever given a mandate for abortion legislation. To suggest that the Irish people have voted in favour of legalising abortion is a gross distortion of the facts.
Contrary to the tirade from Mr Baker and his colleagues, the European Court of Human Rights recognised the legitimate aim of Ireland’s prohibition of abortion for so-called health and social reasons “based as it is on the profound moral views of the Irish people as to the nature of life” and “struck a fair balance” between a woman’s right to respect for her private life and “the rights invoked on behalf of the unborn.” (A, B & C v Ireland: 241) The Court made no recommendation that abortion on any of the grounds listed by Mr Baker should be made available. The Court merely asked this country to clarify its position on the issue and also ruled that there is no such right as a to abortion in the European Convention on Human rights
The conditions set out by Irish Supreme Court in the X-case are extremely narrow ie, a real and substantial threat to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother “which can only be avoided by the termination of her pregnancy…” In reality there is no threat to the life of a pregnant woman, which can only be avoided by abortion. No scientific study has ever shown any medical benefit to abortion but countless studies have demonstrated a link between abortion and a range of medical and psychological problems for women.
For example there is a well-established link between abortion and premature delivery in subsequent pregnancies. Early preterm infants also constitute a majority of those with serious disabilities, including mental retardation, epilepsy, blindness, deafness, lung infections, and cerebral palsy.
Extremely early premature birth, less than 28 weeks gestation, is even more serious, with the highest risk of complications for the infant. For example, the risk of cerebral palsy in extremely early preterm birth is “about 38 times higher than in the overall population of newborns.”( Rooney B and Calhoun C. Induced abortion and risk of later premature birth. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 2003; 8:(2)46-49 (Accessed March 4, 2007)
Very large studies have demonstrated that the risk of an extremely premature birth doubled after two prior induced abortions. They also found that women who had four or more induced abortions had nine times the risk of extremely premature birth, “an increase of 800 percent.” (ibid)
Evidence of psychological damage is also well established. A large record based study in Finland reported a higher rate of suicide after abortion. Women who had an abortion had a 650 percent higher risk of death from suicide compared to women who carried to term. This study linked actual death certificates to medical records.(Gissler M, Hemminki E, Lonnqvist J. Suicides after pregnancy in Finland: 1987-1994: register linkage study. British Medical Journal 1996; 313: 1431-4.)
The higher suicide rates after abortion persist for several years and are highest for younger women. This was seen in a large study of more than 173,000 California Medicaid records in which the increased rate of suicide persisted for the 8 years studied, and which was not explained by prior mental illness (at least not during the year preceding the target pregnancy). (Reardon DC, Ney PG, Scheuren FJ, Cougle JR, Coleman PK, Strahan T. “Deaths associated with pregnancy outcome: a record linkage study of low income women,” Southern Medical Journal. 2002; 95 (8):834-841.)
A records based U.K. study comparing suicide attempts before and after abortion indicated the increase in suicide rates after abortion was not related to prior suicidal behavior but was most likely related to adverse reactions to the abortion. (The rate of attempted suicide remained level or decreased before and after pregnancies that resulted in giving birth. But following abortion, the suicide rate increased from a normal baseline to a significantly higher rate. (Morgan CM, Evans M, Peter JR, Currie C. Suicides after pregnancy: mental health may deteriorate as a direct effect of induced abortion. British Medical Journal 1997; 314: 902.)
There are reports of attempted or completed suicides coinciding with the anniversary date of the abortion or expected due date of the aborted child. (This would tend to indicate a possible causal relationship between the abortion and the suicide or attempted suicide.Tischler C) . Adolescent suicide attempts following elective abortion, Pediatrics 1981; 68(5):670-671.
There is simply no such thing as a life saving abortion. Mr Baker's letter shows a scant regard for the effects of abortion on the lives of women and a total disregard for the human rights of their unborn children.
May we suggest that a group of academics who recognise the importance of protecting innocent life during all stages of pregnancy beginning at fertilisation should also write to the Irish Times setting the matter straight.