I expect that most people know the Eight Amendment in the Irish Constitution which gives equal protection to mothers and their unborn children is under attack. Signed submissions to the Citizen´s Assembly were accepted from the 14 October to the 16 December 2016. When I discovered that Irish citizens living abroad were also allowed to make submissions, I decided to make the contribution which I share below. In all, over 13,000 submissions were received by post and electronic mail, five times the number received by the Constitutional Convention, which recommended a referendum be held on same sex marriage and other topics.
I write as an Irish citizen who was just old enough to vote in the 1983 referendum. I have been living in Scandinavia since 1990 where abortion is widely available on demand from 12-18 weeks, depending on the country in which one lives. I see at first hand the havoc which legal abortion brings in its wake.
I also see the immense suffering which often follows abortion amongst a very significant number of women and men. I do NOT wish this upon Ireland.
HUMANITY: Modern science tells us that a completely new human life begins at conception, with a unique genetic make-up. By eleven weeks, this prenatal human being is almost fully formed, only needing nourishment and security to thrive and grow to birth. This developing human must be protected by our laws, specifically the right to life, just like every other member of Irish society.
HEALTHCARE: Ireland is frequently near the top of WHO and UN healthcare tables with regard to maternal health. Allowing abortion would compromise this healthcare.
Available data shows that women experience higher miscarriage rates, premature births, higher breast cancer rates, higher early death rates and higher suicide rates where abortion is practised.
Medical professionals are sometimes forced to compromise good medical practise, denied work or lose their jobs where freedom of conscience is not respected, as has happened in the UK, Sweden, Poland and USA.
DISCRIMINATION: Abortion is the arbitrary selection of prenatal human beings for a violent death because of handicap, gender/or and social circumstances. Or because of the criminal deeds of their fathers… This is not the foundation for an inclusive society. It is a breach of human rights.
CHOICE: Women who experience abortion often speak of lack of information; lack of support, both financial and emotional; threats of abandonment and fears about the future as being primary motivators. Let Ireland develop better support systems for women in crisis pregnancies; transparent information about abortion procedures and their risks; housing and financial support, and flexible childcare (including open adoption) and working conditions.
LEGAL: Once abortion is legalised, it becomes impossible to restrict. In my country of residence, abortion is supposedly available up to 16 weeks gestation, on fulfilling certain conditions. The reality is that these conditions are very loosely interpreted, resulting in a policy of near abortion-on-demand. In some parts of Scandinavia, one is not even permitted to question a woman´s decision.
POST ABORTION: Abortion inflicts a poisonous wound on the whole of society. Women and men can suffer for years, sometimes alone and in silence. In the country where I reside, their suffering is often denied or badly understood. This suffering and denial can have a profound effect on relationships and on the quality of professional care.
Maria Forrestal, Tórshavn,