Sinn Fein TD, Peadar Toibin, reveals why he is not supporting calls to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.
First of all this is an enormously difficult topic. There are many tragic, difficult, scary, challenges facing mothers, fathers and unborn children every day. There is no doubt that these challenges create enormous stresses and strains on their lives.
I believe that our approach to these families; our friends, relations and neighbours, should be dedicated to focusing on solutions which ensure that equality and compassion are at the heart of laws and that all the necessary health and financial supports be made available to ensure the best outcome for mother and child.
I have many colleagues who are prochoice and while I disagree with them fundamentally on this issue I know that for the majority, their perspective is motivated by a desire to help mothers and children in these difficult cases. This will be a long campaign and this issue is extremely emotive and no matter what side you are from I appeal to all that we treat each other with respect and decency when we discuss this issue.
My own party Sinn Féin believe that the 8th Amendment should be repealed and that Abortion should be made available in cases where there is a life limiting disability, rape and incest and if there is a threat to the health of the mother.
I have a different view. A 100 years ago through the Proclamation, Republicans from throughout Ireland set forth a progressive vision for a new independent Ireland. Equality was at the centre of that new vision. At the heart of the proclamation is the objective to ‘cherish all the children of the nation equally’. This Republican objective is at the heart of my viewpoint.
An unborn child is an individual living human being and therefore entitled to Human Rights. I believe Human Rights should be universal and that the most vulnerable sections of humanity should not be removed from these rights.
In countries where they have removed sectors of humanity from the right to life we see that sector extended over time. In Britain 90% of all unborn children diagnosed with Downs Syndrome are aborted. Shockingly it’s expected that Denmark will Downs Syndrome free by 2030.
I have had the honour of meeting a wonderful girl called Kathleen Rose Harkin. She has a condition called Trisomy 13. Diagnosed in the womb her condition would be described as a fatal foetal abnormality. Yet she is 9 years old. I think Kathleen Rose should have an equal right to life as you or I. The truth is, in abortion regimes you are far more likely to be aborted if you are disabled.
Abortion also discriminates against minorities. More black babies are aborted in New York City than are born. Abortion discriminates against the poor. In the US if you are from a poor family you are far more likely to be aborted than if you are from a rich family. In fact if this government seeks to really help women, targeted funding to lift families out of poverty along with childcare and a decent living wage for working mothers are pivotal. Shockingly some on the extreme Right in America favour abortion because they say that it reduces the number of poor people and crime.
Maybe most disturbing of all is the fact that abortion discriminates against girls. Because of Sex Selective Abortions it is estimated that over 100 million women are missing throughout the world.
In recent weeks a study was carried out into the effect of the 8th Amendment. Ireland has an abortion rate of roughly 5% of pregnancies, these are the numbers of Irish people seeking abortion in Britain and the Netherlands each year; this compares to over 20% in a host of other similar countries but with abortion regimes. This differential because of the 8th Amendment and our subsequent prolife culture means that there are well over 200,000 Irish people alive today who would have had their lives ended.
That’s 1 in every 25 Irish people. These people are your friends, your colleges, your teammates, previous class mates, work mates, your doctors, your nurses and your care givers. It may even be you.
I am a firm believer that most Irish people are prolife. Ireland has one of the best records on maternal health in the world. The demand for abortions by Irish people is falling significantly every year. Most Irish people rightly seek to help families in very difficult cases.
The best way to help and improve on these figures is to maintain our legal and cultural respect for all Human Life, lift mothers and children out of poverty and to radically increase investment in to maternity services in this state.
This is a speech Peader Toibin delivered at a recent Meath Right to Life Campaign Public Meeting.
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