Northern Ireland news

PLATFORM: Voting 'No' will save babies lives, says save the 8th campaign

Votes will be cast in the Republic's abortion referendum on Friday May 25
Niamh Ui Bhriain, Save the 8th Campaign

Niamh Ui Bhriain, Save the 8th Campaign

Next Friday, we are being asked to make it legal to end the life of a healthy, growing, unborn baby for any reason at all. The bill proposed by the government would usher in one of the most liberal abortion regimes in the world, a hugely regressive step for a country where the law has protected both mother and baby.

As the polls continue to slide against the Yes campaign, they have tried to ensure that much of this debate has focused on tragic cases, such as situations where a child's life might be very short, or a woman has been raped. However, the unrestricted nature of the government's bill means that abortion would be legalised on very broad grounds. In Britain, a shocking 97% of abortions are performed on healthy babies, and that's what we are being asked to legalise.

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Last week, 200 lawyers, including two high court judges, and a former Chairman of the Referendum Commission, issued a statement on the referendum.They were crystal clear – this is abortion on demand for the first three months of pregnancy, and up to six months on the same grounds as in the UK, where one in five pregnancies end in abortion.

Why are we being asked to do this? What massive problem is there in Ireland that can only be solved by the extermination of children in the womb rather than making better supports available for women. Why would we, as voters, choose to remove all rights from unborn children, when every single one of us was an unborn child ourselves, not so long ago?

"Ah, but it's happening anyway," abortion campaigners have claimed. But while it is true that some women do travel to the UK and have an abortion, we rarely hear the media acknowledge that those

numbers have been falling steadily since 2011, and have, in fact, now decreased by 50% in the past 15 years according to the HSE.

Clearly, we are having some success in providing real, life-affirming supports to women and their babies, and surely that is a trend should want to see continue. Repealing the 8th amendment and legalising abortion on very broad grounds will reverse those good results, because we know from other jurisdictions that when abortion is legalised the number of abortions performed climb rapidly and sharply.

In Britain, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists estimated that some 14,600 abortions took place each year in 1966. When abortion was legalised in 1967, those numbers increased dramatically and immediately, and now some 200,000 abortions are performed every year in Britain.

The problem is, when you legalise abortion on demand, you create a demand for abortion. There is a reason 90% of children diagnosed with Downs Syndrome are aborted in England, and it is not because their families are bad people. It is because it becomes the expected thing to do. Abortion becomes the first option offered to a woman. That is true everywhere in the world where it is legal.

By the way, you might have heard this story going around that if we legalise abortion, it's just a matter of taking a tablet. That's not the case. In Britain, some 40% of abortions before 12 weeks are surgical, requiring an operation to end the life of the baby from the womb.

Dr Peter McKenna, the clinical director of the HSE's Women and Infant's programme, recently told the Oireachtas Health Committee that around 40% of abortions would have surgical input, with implications for waiting lists for gynaecological surgery.

This abortion proposal then, would see a minimum of 2000 extra operations on an already broken health system. Abortions can't go on a waiting list for nine months, they must happen now. Every single surgical abortion will see someone else, who desperately needs real medical care, pushed down the list.

Abortion isn't medicine. It doesn't cure any illness. Pregnancy is not a disease, and unborn babies are not symptoms to be treated. When we vote next week, it won't be about healthcare – it will be about

whether we can take the life of a healthy unboorn baby, through six months of pregnancy, for any reason at all. We all know this goes too far. We all know we have a democratic right to demand something better.

Please vote NO on Friday, May 25th.

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