DUBLIN (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Irish parliament is striking down proposed legislation seeking to permit the abortion of babies believed to have life-limiting abnormalities.
In a 95–45 vote Thursday, following protests from pro-life activists and a condemnation from the country's prime minister, members of Ireland's lower house, the Dail, rejected an amendment to the Irish Constitution allowing for unborn children to be killed for what doctors perceive would be a crippling condition.
"The bill is bad for women and medically inadequate," PM Enda Kenny stated earlier this week, after urging his Fine Gael party to vote against the bill's implementation. According to the state's legal counsel, the proposed amendment threatened to breach the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution, approved in 1983, which "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right."
The Irish supreme court, however, has ruled that the language of the amendment does permit abortion in instances where "a real and substantial risk to the life" of the mother exists. Illegal abortions currently carry the penalty of 14 years in prison.
The proposed legislation was additionally opposed by other high-ranking members of the Irish government, including Health Minister Simon Harris. "It can never be said that a fetus with a fatal fetal abnormality will not be born to live for a short time, even if that is only to be minutes, to draw a breath and to have a detectable heartbeat," Harris declared. "If a fetus has the capacity to be born, it has the protection of the constitution.”
Proponents of the change argued the "four or five women every week in Ireland having to travel out of the country to have a fatal fetal abnormality dealt with" need the support of the government in their decision. Thousands of women travel to England annually to undergo abortions deemed illegal within Ireland.
Pro-life activists contend those in power who have supported the measure are doing a "real disservice to families of babies with a life-limiting condition, particularly those who have been pressured to abort their child."
"There is something really disturbing about the way some politicians are trying to introduce legislation that will have the effect of removing all legal protection from these babies who are very sick and need our support," maintained Corla Sherlock of the Pro-Life Campaign.
Thursday's defeat does not mark the end of the abortion debate within Ireland: by October, the Irish Parliament is expected to address a bill proposing that a referendum be held regarding a full repeal of the Eighth Amendment.