10 quick takeaways on Government’s abortion report that you need to know

Much has been made in the media in recent days about the recommendation in the abortion review report to scrap the three-day reflection period before an abortion takes place. However, in a major embarrassment for the authors of the report, it turns out they based the recommendation on a small outlier study conducted by a pro-abortion group but failed to engage with the widely publicised official figures from the HSE showing the thousands of women who made an initial abortion appointment but did not return to proceed with the abortion after the three-day period of reflection elapsed. The report is strewn with other errors that undermine the report’s credibility and raise questions about whether the document was even subjected to normal academic scrutiny. Click here to read the PLC statement on the flaws in the data used with regard to the three-day reflection period.

Showing just how extreme the report is, it recommends decriminalising abortion entirely, which would effectively allow for abortion on request up to birth.

The report recommends forcing the 8 remaining maternity hospitals in Ireland currently not carrying out abortions to start doing so. Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has stated that work is already underway to bring this about. Eroding freedom of conscience protections for healthcare workers is a dominant theme in the report. Minister Stephen Donnelly must be pressed to answer clearly if the government he represents is ordering doctors to ignore evidence-based medicine and their clinical experience and mislead their patients by pretending that abortion is healthcare when they know it’s nothing of the sort? The Government cannot duck this question. It demands an urgent answer.

The report also recommends introducing a statutory obligation on healthcare workers to refrain from providing ‘misinformation’ to women accessing abortion. Of all the recommendations, this one is particularly outrageous and dangerous. Who would adjudicate on what constitutes misleading information? Would informing women about peer-reviewed medical research documenting the adverse effects of abortion on women be deemed misinformation? Would the lie claiming that abortion is ‘healthcare’ be given a green light and protective cover from the proposed new legal framework? Legal abortion up-to-birth for any reason could only succeed in an environment where all opposing voices are silenced. Wittingly or unwittingly, that’s how this particular recommendation made its way into the final draft. Perhaps it’s a good thing that it did. For anyone doubting how extreme and unbalanced the report is, this should prompt a rethink.

Then there’s the gaping omissions in the report. There is not a single mention in the recommendations about promoting positive alternatives to abortion. A devastating 8,500 abortions took place in Ireland last year alone and almost 30,000 abortions have happened since the new abortion regime came into effect at the start of 2019, meaning that one baby is now being aborted in Ireland for every seven babies born – a truly shocking statistic. From the feedback we’ve received in recent days, the fact that the report is completely silent about alternatives to abortion has done more damage than anything else to the credibility of the report.

The 139-page report devoted all of three sentences to the issue of administering foetal pain relief to the unborn child in a late-term abortion scenario. It failed to consider the latest scientific research that babies can experience pain during late term abortion. It looks like the authors were simply ticking a box having given the issue no serious consideration. Truly shameful conduct.

The public consultation (submissions) strand of the review is very selectively included in the report. The only organisations’ submissions which the authors identify or reference are from pro-abortion stakeholder groups.

It’s clear from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s remarks in recent days that he understands how extreme and biased the recommendations are. Nonetheless, there is every reason to be concerned that the Government will seek to give effect to the recommendations for no other reason than to placate the very vocal and never satisfied pro-abortion lobby. We have to work extremely hard to guarantee this doesn’t happen.

Pro-life supporters rightly engaged with the review process in good faith to ensure the rights of unborn babies were at least represented. Given everything that has happened, it is now certain that abortion will be a major election issue. We have to work together as well to stop the recommendations from garnering majority support in the Dáil. On a very positive note, as the results from marginal constituencies showed in the general election of 2020, many pro-life voters used their votes to elect candidates who backed the pro-life position. The pro-life vote if mobilised even more could have the deciding call in lots more constituencies on who gets elected and who doesn’t.

The March for Life taking place next Monday, May 1st in Dublin (Bank Holiday Monday 1st May) at 2pm at St. Stephen’s Green is the first opportunity we have to come together to make our voices heard about the three-year review report and to stand in solidarity with pro-life healthcare workers. It goes without saying that we need to turn out in force. Please make an extra special effort to attend. Looking forward to seeing you there!