Simon Harris, the Health Minister who recently professed his thanks to an Irish woman who tweeted her abortion, has offered €30,000 of taxpayer’s funds to another woman who went to the UN to challenge abortion laws.
This has been lauded by the entire media establishment as compensation due for being ‘forced’ to travel abroad to have an abortion.
It is, of course, no such thing.
The so-called United Nations Human Rights Committee is not a judicial body, and, as even Enda Kenny acknowledged, its decisions are not binding on Ireland.
The UN essentially acted as if they could usurp the Irish people in deciding our laws on abortion, going so far as to demand change to our laws, when that change can only be brought about by the people in a referendum. Thankfully, our right to decide these issues is protected by the Constitution and the government should be telling the UN to take a hike, and directing it to spend some time instead on examining the appalling human rights abuses in its member states, such as China.
The UN Committee’s decision – which entirely ignored the rights of the preborn child – was ludicrous in that it expected the State to ignore its own Constitutional provisions on the right to life.
The UN ruling also reveals that Ms Mellett said her main reason to seek abortion was to spare her child suffering. If she had been led to believe her baby would suffer, then whoever gave that misleading information has serious questions to answer. There is no evidence that conditions such as Trisomy 18 (the condition diagnosed in this case) cause babies to suffer pain in the womb, and good care minimises discomfort after birth, as Tanya Coonan of Every Life Counts noted in this powerful article in the Independent this week.
Ms Mellett said that she was denied aftercare and counselling after the abortion, and I would agree that any women who requires counselling should have it made available to them. Many women in the beautiful organisation Every Life Counts have testified that they received no counselling after the loss of their babies to life-limiting conditions.
But the question here of course, is how Simon Harris, and the media, wants the payment of €30,000 to be seen. They want it to be seen as compensation for being ‘forced’ to travel abroad for an abortion.
Using the word ‘forced’ in this context is both dishonest and manipulative.
Abortion is an elective procedure – and women travel because they chose to, not because they are forced to . There is an alternative to abortion – better care for mother and baby so that they can have time together and build a bridge to healing, and research shows this is an alternative less likely to cause pain or harm to both mother and baby.
These are very distressing and upsetting cases, because a baby has been diagnosed with a severe disability and may be going to die. But the pretence that abortion is the only answer and that women are being forced abroad is not helping anyone. In fact, it is hurting people, since parents are increasingly testifying that they were made to feel that that aborting their sick baby was an expectation rather than a ‘choice’.
So the payment of compensation is, in fact, first and foremost, another public declaration in favour of legalising abortion by Health Minister Simon Harris, who seems to spend his time endlessly trying to win media favour by making as many statements supportive of abortion as he can.
His behaviour is reprehensible, even by the standards of this unprincipled, lame and precarious government.
He refuses to meet with parents whose babies died because of life-limiting conditions but who are seeking better care instead of abortion, even though he has met with abortion campaigners.
He thanks women who tweet their abortion, without once mentioning the baby that was killed on the journey.
He says nothing about pro-abortion counsellors who put women’s lives in danger by telling them to lie to doctors. He pretends that the Citizen’s Assembly has no forgone conclusion but then says there will be a referendum to repeal the right to life of preborn children.
He seems to have no understanding of his role as Minister in service of all the people, not just his favourite lobby groups.
He is also presiding over a health service which is seriously failing sick and vulnerable people because of cuts to health spending, and serves a government which is not providing for pregnant women who are sleeping rough in the coldest month of the year. There is no money, he claims, for more staff or better care.
It seems that Simon Harris has money for abortion compensation, but not for homeless pregnant women or for families who want better care. Good to know where his priorities lie.