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Legalised abortion is horrifying says Peter Fitzpatrick TD

Peter Fitzpatrick of Fine Gael gave an excellent speech to retain the 8th in the Dáil yesterday where he said that the Abortion Committee solely focused on attacking the 8th.


"I was very pleased to have the opportunity to serve on the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. I found it very testing and, I have to be honest, sometimes very troubling. The proposal that we are debating here today about repealing the eighth amendment and also the number of weeks at which any legislation will permit abortion to take place is not something that was looked at closely by the committee, regardless of how it is being reported or presented. I want to be honest and do not want to attack anybody personally, but the truth is that the committee spent most of its time simply undermining and attacking the eighth amendment and spent no time at all looking at the good the eighth amendment has done in saving lives.

This is a major issue, given what is now being proposed.

Just to set the record straight, committee members invited five representatives from the pro-life side and 28 or 29 representatives made the case for repealing the eighth amendment. The idea that many pro-life people were invited and did not turn up is not true. They were simply never invited. I can perfectly understand why some of the five pro-life representatives invited chose not to appear before a committee they could see was so loaded in one direction and had no real interest in listening to them.

The other groups which were completely overlooked were the families who said their children were alive thanks to the eighth amendment. These are people all over the country who were faced with an unplanned pregnancy and considered abortion. They said that if abortion was available in this country when they found themselves in crisis they would have been very open to the possibility, but because abortion was not available here they had extra time and space to reflect on what abortion would mean and find support which allowed them to reject abortion and keep their babies. Today, their children are living and growing up in Ireland, enjoying their lives thanks to the life-saving eighth amendment. These people will have a tremendous contribution to make to the debate and it is a real shame they were not invited to the committee. Again, I make these points not to attack any of my colleagues on the committee but because it is very important to set the record straight.

The decision before the committee and each and every one of us here today is whether we are going to facilitate taking away a critically important right to life provision from our Constitution. If we go down the road of repeal, it will not save lives. Rather, it will end lives. We all know this to be true. This is why I am so opposed to repealing the eighth amendment.

When one looks at what has happened in other countries, there is no denying that what I am saying is true. Repeal will lead to an English-style abortion law here. That being the case, why is there so little talk about what the law would like in reality? We only have to look at England to see how abortion affects society. Today in England, one in every five pregnancies ends in abortion. That is a shockingly high rate but it is not surprising. Once one introduces abortion to a country, it becomes more acceptable and there is more of it. It is the same with every law we introduce.

We must not fool ourselves into thinking that the law on abortion will be any different. If we were to repeal the eighth amendment we would have more abortion in Ireland and more babies would lose their lives. Why is there no spotlight on England's abortion law if it is so wonderful? The reason is simple. Legalised abortion is horrifying. When we resort to slogans like "Choice" we can cover over this reality. There was much talk about trusting women on the pro-choice side, but if the key campaigners for repeal generally trust women they will be open with them about what really happens to a baby during an abortion.

Describing an unborn baby as nothing more than a clump of cells denies reality and misleads women, and everyone personally connected to this debate. The baby in the womb is a highly developed human being even at the earliest stage. I was challenged a number of times by one of my colleagues on the committee for stating that an unborn baby's heartbeat starts after three weeks. In The Irish Times, Miriam Lord even came to my colleague's defence for having to endure listening to me make that claim. I want to reiterate my point again today. It is not a claim; it is scientific fact that an unborn baby's heart starts to beat after three weeks. It does not start to beat after seven weeks, as my esteemed colleague stated. An unborn baby's heart is much more than what was described as a pulsating tube. An unborn baby's heartbeat is further proof that a new and unique human life exists.

At just six weeks gestation, the baby's eyes, eyelids, nose, mouth and tongue are forming. By ten weeks gestation, the baby is moving in the womb and 12-week ultrasound scans can show a baby sucking his or her thumb. When we know so much about the development of the baby in the womb, we have two duties as legislators. The first is to ensure that the public is kept fully informed about development. This means that we cannot allow the baby in the womb to be described as nothing more than a clump of cells, which has happened too much to date.

The other duty we have is to acknowledge the humanity of a tiny human being and to ensure that our laws do what they can to protect him or her from harm or attack. This is the reason the eighth amendment was inserted into the Constitution in 1983 and I see no reason we should remove it in 2018. If anything, we know more about the development of the baby in the womb today than we did in 1983 when ultrasound technology was not of today's standard. Back then it might have been possible to dismiss the humanity of a baby, but today we have no such excuses.

There was much talk about the so-called hypocrisy of the Irish law at present. It is easy to make that claim if we bury out heads about what happens in countries where abortion is legal. One of the so-called expert groups invited to give testimony to the committee was the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, BPAS, the largest abortion provider in England. It might be of interest to some people listening to know that it runs the website abortion.ie. It was presented to the committee as experts. I am sorry; it is not expert when it comes to discussing the dignity and rights of every human being. It is expert in one thing and one thing only, namely, carrying out abortions where the lives of innocent unborn children are ended.

Thousands of families say their children would not be alive today were it not for the eighth amendment. For the record, as I said, their stories were 100% ignored by the committee, yet it was claimed that the committee spent time considering stories and experiences from all sides. I regard it as totally unacceptable that many pro-abortion group like BPAS were invited before the committee, but not one person to represent the lives of children saved by the eighth amendment was asked to tell a story of hope against the odds and how the eighth amendment played a central role in the reason a child is alive today.

As a committee, we listened to a doctor from UK describe how he performed abortions by first using an injection to paralyse the unborn baby and stop it from moving around, followed by second injection to stop the baby's heart. There was no way one could listen to descriptions like that and come away without feeling that repealing the eighth amendment would be anything other than barbaric in practice. The doctor who described the abortions he performed was not invited to the committee so we could hear about the true nature of abortion. Rather, he was invited to make a case for abortion as a compassionate solution. There is nothing compassionate about the procedures described. It is almost too horrific to imagine. Yet, we are being asked to remove the constitutional provision which prevents babies from being subjected to this in Ireland.

I would not have believed it until I sat on the committee but I have seen the way in which some people would sign up to almost anything once it is packaged as acceptable, and this is true regardless of what is being presented to them. I say this not to undermine any individual, but I find it frightening the way in which the gruesome and horrific procedure of abortion is being dressed up as something compassionate and liberal when every single abortion ends the life of a defenceless baby.

I want to see a respectful debate, but I also want to see an honest one, and the debate to this point has certainly not been that. I am saddened at the way some of the Members of the House have attacked the motivations of pro-life people in recent days. Some of the comments were truly appalling and were made without any justification. I disagree with those seeking repeal and I will always express my views on it. I see no place in this debate for anyone being deliberately abusive or seeking to undermine the character and good name of people on the opposing side. I had hoped that even though we would not agree on the same course of action on this difficult issue, we would at least be able to keep the debate respectful. That did not happen in the past few days and it is a real shame.

As I said at the outset, I was very pleased to be asked to sit on the committee on abortion but the conclusions of the majority of the committee were not based on hearing from both sides of the debate fairly and the recommendations of the committee are not a sound basis on which to bring forward a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment. This is a very testing time for our country. I remain hopeful that the Irish people will vote to protect the life-saving eighth amendment.

We must show that we recognise the need for genuine compassion for every member of our society, born and unborn, healthy and sick, planned or unplanned. We must highlight the excellent care our medical profession has provided to women and their babies. We must acknowledge that the eighth amendment has been a beacon of hope and we must have the courage to do what is truly progressive, namely, cherish and safeguard the eighth amendment as a beacon of hope and commit ourselves to using it as a foundation stone to build a society where every family feels properly supported and where no woman feel so isolated and alone that she feels her only option is to end the life of the unborn child.
That is the kind of Ireland I want to live in, one where every human being matters. If the eighth amendment is repealed, we will end up living in a very different country where our abortion rate will increase significantly and respect for life will diminish. The way to ensure this does not happen is to speak up for life now before it is too late.



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