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BEN SCALLAN: Was Ireland lied to about abortion?

It’s been a few years now since the 8th amendment was repealed from the Irish constitution, which brought in one of the most radical and liberal abortion regimes in the world. And so, in hindsight, now that we’ve seen the reality of it, the question must be asked; were the Irish people lied to about abortion?

In the run-up to the 2018 abortion referendum, there’s one slogan that we heard non-stop on loop from politicians and the media, and that’s that abortion was going to be, quote, “safe, legal and rare.” This was trotted out constantly by politicians and campaigners at all levels of government. They repeated it on loop like some sort of broken push toy.


By the way, just FYI, that was Katherine Zappone speaking, who was a TD at the time, and when she made that speech she was the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs. Imagine the Minister for Children campaigning for aborting babies. Some circus of a country we live in, eh?

But, regardless, that’s a side issue. The point is, Irish people were told repeatedly that abortion would be rare – implying it would only be for the extreme and quote-unquote “hard cases”. In fact, before the referendum, when the Yes vote slipped under 50%, abortion campaigners falsly told voters that if they didn’t vote Yes women would die – Project Fear writ large.

And it was largely on that basis that the Irish people voted yes. They thought they were getting something measured and restrictive.

But what really happened? Well, let’s look at the first year of Ireland’s abortion regime, 2019 – the only year so far for which we have any numbers – and see how that worked out in reality.

“A total of 6,666 abortions were carried out in Ireland last year (that is, 2019), according to official figures. Details have been released of the first year where terminations of pregnancy were allowed to be carried out in certain circumstances, following the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.”

OK, so not rare at all then. Constant actually. And in fact, the true figure is even higher than that, because despite abortion being legalised here, hundreds of women still travelled from Ireland to the UK for abortions in the same year.

So the total was over 7,000 abortions in one year. Does this sound rare to you? That’s 19 abortions a day for a year. Right now, today, when you’re reading this, there will be 19 abortions in Ireland – almost one every hour.

So I think it’s fair to say that the politicians who told us this would be a very restrictive, controlled thing, and oh-so-carefully managed, were categorically lying to the public.

Not that there’ll be any consequences for that of course – our ballots have been cast, the damage has been done, and most of them are still elected and free to do as they please. But we should at least remember their hypocrisy and dishonest campaigning.

On top of all this, the vast majority of the abortions undertaken were elective – which is to say, there was no particular tragic circumstance surrounding the abortion. The person in question didn’t need to give a reason for wanting one. As reported in Newstalk:

“100 abortions were related to cases where there were conditions likely to lead to the death of a foetus. The remaining 24 were conducted when there was a risk to life or health of the woman – including three cases in an emergency.”

So that’s 124 abortions for what’s been called the “hard cases” as far as we know – and that’s ignoring the fact that lots of parents say that with the right help they would carry a sick baby. That still leaves almost 7,000 This is where there’s nothing wrong with the woman, nothing wrong with the baby, both the mother and the child are perfectly healthy. There’s no risk to anyone’s life or health. And almost seven thousand babies are being terminated under these circumstances every single year.

Is this what the average Irish person voted for? An utter free for all? Because that’s exactly what we got.

In fact, so extreme is Ireland’s abortion regime, that a recent study showed that there are cases right now in this country where babies are born alive after botched abortions and left to die. This is happening right now.

There was a study from September last year based on a series of interviews with ten foetal medicine specialists carrying out abortions across Ireland – and before you read this excerpt, bear in mind that this study was published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and was conducted by researchers from University College Cork. So this is not from some pro-life blog – this is what the actual doctors and medical experts are saying. If you have a problem with anything you’re about to read, don’t come after me – bring it up with the obstetricians and gynaecologists.

As reported in the study:

“Half of the specialists identified a ‘role for feticide’, ‘depending on the anomaly’, whereas some expressed that feticide needed to be mandatory for late gestations because it was in the best interest of the baby to not be born alive. This generated concern for specialists as they are ‘unclear as to who will look after those babies’ if a baby is born alive following termination of pregnancy by induction of labour and without feticide, resulting in them ‘begging people to help’ them in providing palliative care.”

So, where there is an attempt to abort the baby, and the baby is instead born alive outside the womb at a late term, no doubt crying and breathing, the doctors are left begging people for help and they can’t find it. Is that not the most gruesome thing you’ve ever heard? And this is happening in our country right now.

Not to make this about me, we’re talking about a major societal issue here, but I have a loved one in my own family who was born 11 weeks premature. I’m sure many people watching this do as well. So is there not something sick about the fact that in one ward of an Irish hospital, a baby could be born alive prematurely and doctors could be working around the clock to save her life, and then in the next room over a baby who is at the same week of development is being intentionally killed. What kind of backwards society would do such a thing?

On top of this, over half of doctors are scared of OK’ing an abortion in the case of so-called “fatal foetal abnormality”, in case someone else does not agree that the child’s condition is indeed fatal.

“Foetal medicine specialists identified that ‘where the default is termination is the worst outcome’ it leaves them ‘exposed’, meaning that if a termination of pregnancy for fatal foetal abnormality has been performed and the diagnosis is found to be incorrect, the specialists feel vulnerable to prosecution and the media scrutiny that an incorrect diagnosis would create. As a result, over half of the participants shared their fear of getting the diagnosis wrong.”

So in other words, doctors are terrified that they may diagnose a baby with a life-limiting condition, perform an abortion on that basis, and then find out that the baby is perfectly healthy and they’ve essentially killed a perfectly happy, healthy baby. And of course, that fear is not unfounded, because it’s already happened in this country with the tragic Holles Street case, where a baby was mistakenly diagnosed with a fatal genetic condition, aborted, and then it was found that the diagnosis was wrong.

Personally, I don’t think there’s ever an excuse for abortion – even a life that lasts 5 minutes is precious and worth something. None of us are guaranteed a long life. But to needlessly lose a healthy baby because of a misdiagnosis is utterly tragic any way you slice it.

And yet this story is already forgotten about. This happened the year we legalised abortion, and the media conveniently sweeps it under the carpet.

The study also describes the internal struggle experienced by abortion doctors as they wrestle with the reality of what they have to do for a living.

“Internal conflict was experienced by almost all foetal medicine specialists, as a result of caring for women with a fatal foetal abnormality; they expressed having ‘a line’ that they ‘do not cross’, and that the condition being terminated is a ‘significant abnormality’. Over half of the specialists expressed internal conflict about the provision of feticide and the need to ‘separate yourself from it completely’. They described feticide as ‘brutal’, ‘awful’ and ‘emotionally difficult’, referring to it as ‘stabbing the baby in the heart’, and held themselves responsible for the death of the baby: ‘I caused the death’.”

Additionally, one doctor said, and I quote:

“It is always very sad and emotional, it is difficult but something that I guess I have been doing for a long time and I am aware that I am doing it for a long time. It doesn’t necessarily mean it is easier, it is always very sad. I remember getting sick out in the corridors afterwards because I thought it (feticide) was such an awful procedure and so dreadful. You have to see the positive in it otherwise you would drive yourself mad.”

Now tell me, what other medical procedure elicits that kind of reaction in a doctor? That doctor said they had been doing it for a long time – what person makes it through med school, has a long storied medical career, and then has to go out into the hall and get sick because they performed a heart transplant, for example? Which doctor removes an appendix, and then is haunted by it for weeks and talks about how sad and dreadful it was?

Let me spoil the answer for you: none. No experienced doctor reacts that way with any other procedure. They know that this procedure is radically different to any other area of their profession and it takes a toll on them psychologically.

Even politicians saying that abortion should be “rare” exposes the fact that they know deep down it’s no ordinary procedure. If the baby is not a baby but just a “clump of cells” like we’re told, then why should it be rare? Why not have ten abortions a year? It’s no big deal, surely? Is it immoral to go for a tooth cleaning every week, or to get your eyes checked every month? It’s just a simple medical procedure, right?

Except nobody acts like that – not even pro-choicers. They know it’s nonsense, and so do the doctors and everyone else. We’re all playing this pantomime as a society where we pretend that this is no big deal.

Take Clare Daly on RTÉ 1 saying that an early miscarriage is just like a heavy period and basically implying that it’s not a big deal.

Imagine saying that to a woman who’s just miscarried. That’s one of the most hurtful and offensive things you could ever say and we all know it. We all know someone who’s experienced the pain of miscarriage and losing a baby. No sane person would say “ah sure it’s only a clump of cells, get over it.”

Apart from anything, the clump of cells thing is medically nonsense – Oxford University have even confirmed that the human heartbeat starts 16 days after conception, which is before most people even know that they’re pregnant.

All biologists and medical experts agree that human life begins at conception – this is not disputed by anyone who has studied the subject closely. So the “clump of cells” thing is an utterly false narrative used to dehumanise the unborn baby.

But even aside from that, it’s an insult to anyone who’s ever miscarried in early pregnancy. You’re basically saying to a grieving woman that she didn’t really lose a baby. It’s just an embryo, so who cares? That’s the logical conclusion of what they’re saying.

And then on the other hand, if we accept that she is a little baby, and that losing her is a tragedy, then why are we ending the lives of thousands of babies at the same level of development every year? Why are we knowingly ending the lives of babies and acting like it’s OK?

I don’t care what the polls say – Irish people did not vote for this. And the fact that such an extreme regime has been foisted on our society in such a short period of time shows just how rotten our system is.

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