Alban Maginness: Dail committee proposals for the 'reform' of law on abortion would cause Herod to blanch
TDs' recommendations amount to infanticide and make UK's 1967 Act look tame
It is a little odd that, just two weeks before we celebrate Christmas, a special Dail committee has rushed through by a majority vote a series of pro-abortion proposals which, if introduced into law, would represent a very wide measure of access to abortion in the south.
One wonders if the TDs and senators that put forward this slate of dystopian proposals will have any regrets as they reflect on the enormity of their proposed changes for the defenceless lives of the unborn while they tuck into their Christmas pudding and cheerfully sing Christmas carols.
The twisted reasoning behind these planned changes is reminiscent of Jonathan Swift's satirical Modest Proposal where, with his classic black humour, he suggested that the-then English government should fatten up and then kill the poor children that were starving in Ireland and then sell their carcasses to the rich in order to develop the struggling Irish economy and eliminate poverty.
His tract was intended as an outrageous joke to provoke the inert political conscience of an insensitive English Establishment about the impoverished state of people in Ireland. His Modest Proposal being a case of the cure being worse than the illness.
Unfortunately, the Dail committee has, among other bad recommendations, embraced abortion without any conditions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and without any serious consideration of the fundamental human right to life of the unborn.
Unlike Dean Swift, these humourless legislators are deadly serious in their extreme recommendations for abortion on demand.
In this instance it is a case of Irish politicians driven by media hype to be 'progressive' and to enthusiastically mimic the inhuman standards of the rest of Western Europe.
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In the Dail committee, which heard evidence almost exclusively from pro-abortion advocates, there was no real debate on the fundamental issue of upholding and preserving the human right to life of the unborn.
There is a strong suspicion that, from its very outset, this committee had a pre-determined view in favour of abolishing the 8th Amendment and introducing abortion.
Article 8 of the Irish Constitution, introduced in 1983, gives equal legal protection to the life of mother and unborn baby. Under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act (2013) in the Republic the law permits intervention to save the life of the mother, where her life is at risk. This is similar to our own law here in Northern Ireland.
In the modern world, properly preoccupied with equality, the 8th Amendment established true equality between mother and baby.
Now, under these proposals, that Amendment will be repealed (subject to referendum) and the equality that thus far protected the life of both mother and baby will be abolished. The right to life of the baby will be completely abandoned.
Thus one of the most far-seeing and innovative acts of constitutional equality in the world will be replaced by legislative provisions to provide for the widespread undermining of the human right to life of the unborn.
These multiple proposals just about fall short of infanticide and make the British 1967 Abortion Act look tame by comparison.
It is also bizarre that the committee failed to take into consideration at all the position of the father of the unborn child.
Under these proposals the father is simply ignored and will have absolutely no say in the future life of his unborn baby. Surely, in this age of equality, the father might have some rights?
It is extraordinary that these long-term proposals were taken in the complete absence of any consultation with the people of Northern Ireland, either nationalist or unionist, Catholic or Protestant.
The Citizens Assembly that came up with the original recommendations for wide-ranging abortion did not include citizens from Northern Ireland, nor did it invite any northern political representatives or organisations to express their views on such a fundamentally important topic affecting the Irish Constitution. The Dail committee, in partitionist oblivion, likewise ignored any shade of northern opinion.
This is the same body politic that purports to want to unite the Irish people and yet, on such a sensitive and far-reaching issue, no thought was given to inviting any northern viewpoint at all.
Furthermore, no thought has been given throughout this so-called consultation as to the potential impact that this issue might have on opinion in the north.
Is it not extraordinary that Dail Eireann, as the guardian of the Irish Constitution, couldn't care less about what the north might feel on this sensitive issue, which will have long-term consequences? Northern opinion was deliberately ignored.
It is not hard to imagine that many northern nationalists and unionists may well feel an aversion to the prospect of unity in the future with a jurisdiction that will permit abortion on demand.