Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 – an analysis by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC)
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The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill (2013) if passed will mark a radical change in Ireland's abortion law. In many aspects the Bill is more permissive than the British Abortion Act (1967).
· It repeals the comprehensive protection of unborn children under the Offences Against the Person Act (1861). It strips the right to life from children before, and even during, birth in a broad range of circumstances. Threats to life need not be inevitable or immediate.
· It permits abortion on the grounds of suicidal ideation – once again, even when a threat of suicide is neither inevitable nor immediate.
· Its numerous inconsistencies and ill-defined terms (eg "good faith", "reasonable opinion" and "due regard") render the Bill's limited protection of children virtually unenforceable.
The Bill fails to consider developments in science and legal precedent.
· Its arbitrary and unscientific definition of "unborn" excludes all unimplanted embryos conceived naturally or by artificial means leaving such embryos vulnerable to exploitation.
· It ignores recent Irish case law that recognises life beginning at fertilisation.
The Bill violates rights guaranteed by the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, including the equal right to life and freedom of conscience.
· It will compel medical personnel to participate in abortion in some ways, while offering no protection to other professionals.
· It will compel maternity hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to provide abortions.
· It legalises abortion without the consent of a pregnant woman in undefined “emergency” situations.
This Bill is so dangerously and deeply flawed that successful amendment of it is impossible. It should therefore be withdrawn in its entirety. If passed, this Bill will hugely increase the number of abortions carried out in Ireland. It is, without doubt, a Bill proposing a clearly unjust law and it must be resisted at every level.