Catholic Church in Ireland faces abortion question

A new bill in Ireland would allow direct abortions in cases where the mother’s health was in danger—even in cases of suicide risk.

This past Friday, an Irish coalition government introduced a bill which weakens Ireland’s strict anti-abortion laws. Debate over the bill follows the horrific death of Savita Halappanavar, who was denied a direct abortion that likely would have saved her life. The bill, among other things, would allow direct abortions in cases where the mother’s health was in danger—even in cases of suicide risk.

The church, in part because Catholic institutions would be compelled to do these abortions, has reacted strongly against the measure. The Irish Bishops, for instance, point out that abortion, “is never a remedy for suicidal ideation and therefore should never be cited as a justification for the direct killing of an innocent human being.” There is even talk of excommunication of Irish lawmakers depending on how this all plays out.

Sadly, this feeds into the worst stereotypes of the institutional Catholic Church.  It is difficult for many to understand how the bishops, even on modest reforms like this one which are designed to protect the life and health of women, can be so extreme on abortion.  If women are to flourish many we need to leave behind this antiquated way of thinking. Some even went so far as to say that Savita “died in the name of religion.”

But this simply misunderstands the facts of this tragic case. First, it is perfectly legal under Irish law to induce labor, even on a preterm child, to save the life of the mother. That Savita’s doctors did not do this is medical malpractice on their part, not a result of Ireland’s admirable and progressive insistence that their vulnerable prenatal children have equal protection of the law. Ireland remains one of the safest countries in the world for pregnant women– significantly safer than the United States and the United Kingdom, for instance, both of which allows broad access to direct abortion. Indeed, the medical science remains unclear on whether anything beyond indirect abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother.

But the energy in support of the Ireland’s shifting abortion law goes far beyond protecting women’s health. Pro-choice activists (both in Ireland and elsewhere) are seizing the moment as a chance to push their broader agenda forward. Declaring that Savita’s death “won’t be in vain,” they are beginning systematic pro-choice campaigns which, among other things, direct Irish women to Web sites where they can illegally obtain the abortion pill.

One might think that this agenda serves the interest of women, but a new Pew poll shows not only that women are more likely than men to claim that abortion is morally wrong, they are also more likely to want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.  Pro-life feminists have been explaining for decades how abortion rights paradoxically serve the sexual agenda of men, obscure the inequality of women, and force mothers into horrific situations where the “choice” to kill their child means anything but freedom.

These kinds of pro-life concerns are gaining ground.  Of the laws that are enacted about abortion in the United States, the overwhelming majority of them give our prenatal children more protection of the law, not less. The abortion market shows this trend as well: there is only one clinic each remaining in Alabama and Mississippi, and there are reports that the last clinic in Delaware has been closed.

Unsurprisingly, these trends reflect a growing shift in public opinion.  According to Gallup only 41 percent of Americans are pro-choice, a record low.  The shift is even more dramatic among young people: only 37 percent of Millennials consider abortion to be morally acceptable.  Especially because the last two generations became more pro-life as they got older, this trend is does not bode well for abortion activists.

Even after the malpractice which led to Savita’s horrible death, Ireland remains one of the safest places in the world for pregnant women. It is a great example of a developed country which refuses to choose between women and their prenatal children. They are not only on the right side of justice, they are on the right side of history.

Image courtesy of John Menard.

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  • cricket44

    “vulnerable prenatal children”

    What garbage. There are very few pro-life people in the world. The anti-choice stance relies on ignorance, as your article well-illustrates.

    There is no such person as an anti-choice feminist. One cannot claim to be *for* women while at the same time advocating treating them as less than people.

  • cricket44

    “vulnerable prenatal children”

    What garbage. There are very few pro-life people in the world. The anti-choice stance relies on ignorance, as your article well-illustrates.

    There is no such person as an anti-choice feminist. One cannot claim to be *for* women while at the same time advocating treating them as less than people.

  • plattitudes

    What garbage. Over half of the people I know are pro-life, the vast majority are college educated individuals who value life over evading the consequences of choices made. Just because people don’t agree with you doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or are ignorant.

    There is such a person as a pro-life feminist, I’m married to one of them. I also am for women’s rights, but not at the expense of the child’s.

    Funny how we talk about having the freedom of speech, etc. until it infringes on the rights of another, yet we don’t have that same discussion about abortion.

  • plattitudes

    What garbage. Over half of the people I know are pro-life, the vast majority are college educated individuals who value life over evading the consequences of choices made. Just because people don’t agree with you doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or are ignorant.

    There is such a person as a pro-life feminist, I’m married to one of them. I also am for women’s rights, but not at the expense of the child’s.

    Funny how we talk about having the freedom of speech, etc. until it infringes on the rights of another, yet we don’t have that same discussion about abortion.

  • cricket44

    Typical. Start with the conclusion “evading the consequences of choices made” and bend everything else to fit it.

    Your wife can think of herself how she likes but no, denying women the right to physical autonomy is not “feminist” in any way whatsoever.

    At the time of most abortions, claiming “child” is absurd in the extreme.

    There is no ‘other’ in abortion. There is the woman and the potential.

    A minimum of 20% of pregnancies miscarry, often before the woman even knows she’s pregnant. So, why do we not have full-fledged funerals every month? You know, just in case she passes a “person?”

  • cricket44

    Typical. Start with the conclusion “evading the consequences of choices made” and bend everything else to fit it.

    Your wife can think of herself how she likes but no, denying women the right to physical autonomy is not “feminist” in any way whatsoever.

    At the time of most abortions, claiming “child” is absurd in the extreme.

    There is no ‘other’ in abortion. There is the woman and the potential.

    A minimum of 20% of pregnancies miscarry, often before the woman even knows she’s pregnant. So, why do we not have full-fledged funerals every month? You know, just in case she passes a “person?”

  • cricket44

    Why do you want to be just like China, Humbly? They are the natural result of the anti-choice mentality.

  • cricket44

    Why do you want to be just like China, Humbly? They are the natural result of the anti-choice mentality.

  • Catken1

    So saying that once you get pregnant, your body is someone else’s property, and you may not say no to their use of you regardless of the consequences, is empowering?

    Why don’t males, then, accept such empowerment? Once you father a child, your body ought to belong to that child – and if they need anything from you, from a blood donation to a kidney, you ought to be required to give even if it leaves you permanently mutilated or dead. Anything else – any acknowledgement that your organs and body parts are your own – leaves you feeling less than human, right?

  • Catken1

    So saying that once you get pregnant, your body is someone else’s property, and you may not say no to their use of you regardless of the consequences, is empowering?

    Why don’t males, then, accept such empowerment? Once you father a child, your body ought to belong to that child – and if they need anything from you, from a blood donation to a kidney, you ought to be required to give even if it leaves you permanently mutilated or dead. Anything else – any acknowledgement that your organs and body parts are your own – leaves you feeling less than human, right?

  • Catken1

    ” I also am for women’s rights, but not at the expense of the child’s. ”

    What right does any born child have to use another person’s internal organs or body parts without that person’s continuing consent, which may be withdrawn at any point during the process?

    Does any person, born or unborn, have rights over your body if you do not wish to share it with them?

  • Catken1

    ” I also am for women’s rights, but not at the expense of the child’s. ”

    What right does any born child have to use another person’s internal organs or body parts without that person’s continuing consent, which may be withdrawn at any point during the process?

    Does any person, born or unborn, have rights over your body if you do not wish to share it with them?

  • amelia45

    What we need to hear is some sense on issues of protecting the health of women when a doctor says the pregnancy is dangerous to her health or her life. And we need to hear some sense about abortion in the case of rape and in the case of severe fetal defects. Much of the problem on the polarization of this issue is extreme pro-life people taking adamant positions, and refusing to provide for even contingencies in which a woman must be able to choose her own life or health or the use of her body. Savita Halappanavar died because her health was ignored while a fetus the doctors said had no chance at life was protected until the heart beat stopped. She died because of an attitude that Prof Camosy ignores. There will be other women who die in the same circumstances – waiting, risking the life of the woman whether she is willing to risk her life or not.

  • amelia45

    What we need to hear is some sense on issues of protecting the health of women when a doctor says the pregnancy is dangerous to her health or her life. And we need to hear some sense about abortion in the case of rape and in the case of severe fetal defects. Much of the problem on the polarization of this issue is extreme pro-life people taking adamant positions, and refusing to provide for even contingencies in which a woman must be able to choose her own life or health or the use of her body. Savita Halappanavar died because her health was ignored while a fetus the doctors said had no chance at life was protected until the heart beat stopped. She died because of an attitude that Prof Camosy ignores. There will be other women who die in the same circumstances – waiting, risking the life of the woman whether she is willing to risk her life or not.

  • one nation

    Many RCs do not fully agree with the teachings of the RCC bearing mind what the RCC has done and fail to do. With information and news today known at a instant from different sources, people will doubt what is said until they accept it after looking at it from other sources. Just look at birth control. Economics is also part of the picture. Ireland has been greatly damaged by the RCC controls over the years to date. Ireland calls itself the free state which it is now slowly becoming. Who was the first person to ask England to invade Ireland and why?

  • one nation

    Many RCs do not fully agree with the teachings of the RCC bearing mind what the RCC has done and fail to do. With information and news today known at a instant from different sources, people will doubt what is said until they accept it after looking at it from other sources. Just look at birth control. Economics is also part of the picture. Ireland has been greatly damaged by the RCC controls over the years to date. Ireland calls itself the free state which it is now slowly becoming. Who was the first person to ask England to invade Ireland and why?

  • twmatthews

    ” Pro-life feminists have been explaining for decades how abortion rights paradoxically serve the sexual agenda of men, obscure the inequality of women, and force mothers into horrific situations where the “choice” to kill their child means anything but freedom.”

    So by your definition, removing the choice from a mother is really increasing her freedom. And incarcerating someone really gives them the freedom not have to choose where to go.

    Great logic.

  • twmatthews

    ” Pro-life feminists have been explaining for decades how abortion rights paradoxically serve the sexual agenda of men, obscure the inequality of women, and force mothers into horrific situations where the “choice” to kill their child means anything but freedom.”

    So by your definition, removing the choice from a mother is really increasing her freedom. And incarcerating someone really gives them the freedom not have to choose where to go.

    Great logic.

  • nkri401

    Indeed, if the pregnant woman needs a heart transplant to keep the fetus alive, the sperm donor’s heart should used by force if necessary. How do you like this prospect, you uber pro-life types?

    If I may – this extreme pro-life position is a continuation of patriarchal culture where a child for the man is more valuable than the woman. He can always get another woman, you know.

    The same patriarchal culture imposes female chastity as the ultimate virtue above the woman’s life itself so that the man’s child is to be assured to be of his own. And of course, IMHO.

    Enlightenment anyone??

  • nkri401

    Indeed, if the pregnant woman needs a heart transplant to keep the fetus alive, the sperm donor’s heart should used by force if necessary. How do you like this prospect, you uber pro-life types?

    If I may – this extreme pro-life position is a continuation of patriarchal culture where a child for the man is more valuable than the woman. He can always get another woman, you know.

    The same patriarchal culture imposes female chastity as the ultimate virtue above the woman’s life itself so that the man’s child is to be assured to be of his own. And of course, IMHO.

    Enlightenment anyone??

  • SODDI

    Women face the abortion question. And there are no women in the hierarchy of the catholic church.

  • SODDI

    Women face the abortion question. And there are no women in the hierarchy of the catholic church.

  • SODDI

    “Why don’t males, then, accept such empowerment? Once you father a child, your body ought to belong to that child – and if they need anything from you, from a blood donation to a kidney, you ought to be required to give even if it leaves you permanently mutilated or dead. Anything else – any acknowledgement that your organs and body parts are your own – leaves you feeling less than human, right?”

    Agreed. Don’t forget 100% of the male’s money and time. Because pregnancy is a full-time job.

  • SODDI

    “Why don’t males, then, accept such empowerment? Once you father a child, your body ought to belong to that child – and if they need anything from you, from a blood donation to a kidney, you ought to be required to give even if it leaves you permanently mutilated or dead. Anything else – any acknowledgement that your organs and body parts are your own – leaves you feeling less than human, right?”

    Agreed. Don’t forget 100% of the male’s money and time. Because pregnancy is a full-time job.

  • kingcranky

    It’s not “pro life” to value the fetus’ life more than the mother.

  • kingcranky

    It’s not “pro life” to value the fetus’ life more than the mother.

  • alert4jsw

    An egg is not a “pre-chicken,” an acorn is not a “pre-oak tree,” and a fetus is not a “prenatal child.”

    The Catholic church became obsessed with abortion as medical science made birth control more reliable and easily available. After Roe v. Wade empowered American women to have control over their own reproductive systems, the American church made abortion its primary issue. By declaring the fetus — a non-congnizant stage of mammalian development — to be a “child” with the full rights of one actually born, the church then claimed the privilege of speaking for that “child,” thereby compromising and even negating the basic human rights of the woman involved.

    The unfortunate woman in Ireland was just one more victim in the centuries of religion — in this case Catholicism — forcing its values on everyone through civil law. And just another example of the truth in the adage that mankind will never be truly civilized until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest.

  • alert4jsw

    An egg is not a “pre-chicken,” an acorn is not a “pre-oak tree,” and a fetus is not a “prenatal child.”

    The Catholic church became obsessed with abortion as medical science made birth control more reliable and easily available. After Roe v. Wade empowered American women to have control over their own reproductive systems, the American church made abortion its primary issue. By declaring the fetus — a non-congnizant stage of mammalian development — to be a “child” with the full rights of one actually born, the church then claimed the privilege of speaking for that “child,” thereby compromising and even negating the basic human rights of the woman involved.

    The unfortunate woman in Ireland was just one more victim in the centuries of religion — in this case Catholicism — forcing its values on everyone through civil law. And just another example of the truth in the adage that mankind will never be truly civilized until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest.

  • OutofmanyONE

    Is the Republic of Ireland the free state or a church state?

  • OutofmanyONE

    Is the Republic of Ireland the free state or a church state?

  • Joel1

    The Catholic church in Ireland has lost all relevance in a society over which it once reigned supreme, but very poorly. Given that the church essentially was complicit with the English in the 19th Century, I for one do not regret its fall from authority.

    When I was a child, there was barely room to fit in the church on Sunday, or many other days of the week. Today, often there are more at the altar than in the congregation. And they’ve no-one to blame but themselves.

  • Joel1

    The Catholic church in Ireland has lost all relevance in a society over which it once reigned supreme, but very poorly. Given that the church essentially was complicit with the English in the 19th Century, I for one do not regret its fall from authority.

    When I was a child, there was barely room to fit in the church on Sunday, or many other days of the week. Today, often there are more at the altar than in the congregation. And they’ve no-one to blame but themselves.

  • genecarr100

    In the Irish debate the most prominent and articulate spokes persons for the pro-life position are women. They are highly educated doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists and it is they more than men who advice the Catholic Church on the medical, legal and other aspects of the issues. The loudest ‘pro-choice’ people are male, feigning concern for women.

  • genecarr100

    In the Irish debate the most prominent and articulate spokes persons for the pro-life position are women. They are highly educated doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists and it is they more than men who advice the Catholic Church on the medical, legal and other aspects of the issues. The loudest ‘pro-choice’ people are male, feigning concern for women.

  • genecarr100

    Savita Hallapanavar did not, as Prof Camosy has carefully explained,die because of Ireland’s prolife laws. But let us grant for the moment that she did. This would represent only one case since the Irish people in a democratic ballot inserted a prolife clause in their constitution. One case!!. Pro-aborts will of course claim that there were more which were covered up. This is very unlikely since pro-abortion activists have searched for cases all that time and found none. This is why they so avidly exploited the unfortunate tragedy of Savita.

  • genecarr100

    Savita Hallapanavar did not, as Prof Camosy has carefully explained,die because of Ireland’s prolife laws. But let us grant for the moment that she did. This would represent only one case since the Irish people in a democratic ballot inserted a prolife clause in their constitution. One case!!. Pro-aborts will of course claim that there were more which were covered up. This is very unlikely since pro-abortion activists have searched for cases all that time and found none. This is why they so avidly exploited the unfortunate tragedy of Savita.

  • genecarr100

    The Irish pro-life constitution does not prefer the unborn child over the mother. It values them both, but allows for termination if it is necessary to protect the mother’s life.

  • genecarr100

    The Irish pro-life constitution does not prefer the unborn child over the mother. It values them both, but allows for termination if it is necessary to protect the mother’s life.

  • cricket44

    All anti-choice mentality treats the potential as sacred and the actual woman as simply a vessel to be used.

  • cricket44

    All anti-choice mentality treats the potential as sacred and the actual woman as simply a vessel to be used.

  • janinsanfran

    What’s this dude doing, sounding off on something he cannot do (carry a child)?

  • janinsanfran

    What’s this dude doing, sounding off on something he cannot do (carry a child)?

  • enchiridion

    “Indeed, if the pregnant woman needs a heart transplant to keep the fetus alive, the sperm donor’s heart should used by force if necessary. How do you like this prospect, you uber pro-life types?”

    You’re talking about murdering someone to perform a heart transplant. So yeah, you’re real enlightened and in touch with reality.

    It seems like nobody here remembers that pregnancy is not in fact a spontaneous act of nature and does indeed require a conscious decision to invoke. You choose to have sex. Sex can cause pregnancy. SCIENCE and a couple thousand years of humans hooking up has shown us this to be true.

    Your choice to have sex is your choice to donate your uterus to a lil’ person, EVEN if you aren’t (gasp) trying to get pregnant! So don’t act like a baby growing in your womb is some invasion of your body. A man invaded your body to cause that pregnancy but you were fine with that. Hmm! You see, the pro-choice movement is simply a panacea for sex addicts.

    People will do anything to remove the responsibility from sex. You act so outraged that something unfortunate and terrible happens to a pregnant girl when really it’s about you. If she was hit by a car and her and her baby were killed, would you care? Naw. It wouldn’t even be news.

    Pro-choicers talk like babies just happen and women who can’t abort them are the victims. (Yes, I know rape is a different matter.) What really is at work here though is that the pro-choice movement seeks to remove all responsibility from the act of sex so that they can enjoy it as they see fit. You are so far gone that you will justify ending a human life so that you can enjoy your life style. You claim that tragic events like this one are the sole reason for abortion to be allowed, but deep down you know it’s all about you wanting freedom from the burden of pregnancy and responsibility. It would be hilarious how out of touch with reality THAT is if human lives weren’t at stake. Ya’ll bum me out.

  • enchiridion

    “Indeed, if the pregnant woman needs a heart transplant to keep the fetus alive, the sperm donor’s heart should used by force if necessary. How do you like this prospect, you uber pro-life types?”

    You’re talking about murdering someone to perform a heart transplant. So yeah, you’re real enlightened and in touch with reality.

    It seems like nobody here remembers that pregnancy is not in fact a spontaneous act of nature and does indeed require a conscious decision to invoke. You choose to have sex. Sex can cause pregnancy. SCIENCE and a couple thousand years of humans hooking up has shown us this to be true.

    Your choice to have sex is your choice to donate your uterus to a lil’ person, EVEN if you aren’t (gasp) trying to get pregnant! So don’t act like a baby growing in your womb is some invasion of your body. A man invaded your body to cause that pregnancy but you were fine with that. Hmm! You see, the pro-choice movement is simply a panacea for sex addicts.

    People will do anything to remove the responsibility from sex. You act so outraged that something unfortunate and terrible happens to a pregnant girl when really it’s about you. If she was hit by a car and her and her baby were killed, would you care? Naw. It wouldn’t even be news.

    Pro-choicers talk like babies just happen and women who can’t abort them are the victims. (Yes, I know rape is a different matter.) What really is at work here though is that the pro-choice movement seeks to remove all responsibility from the act of sex so that they can enjoy it as they see fit. You are so far gone that you will justify ending a human life so that you can enjoy your life style. You claim that tragic events like this one are the sole reason for abortion to be allowed, but deep down you know it’s all about you wanting freedom from the burden of pregnancy and responsibility. It would be hilarious how out of touch with reality THAT is if human lives weren’t at stake. Ya’ll bum me out.

  • nesyl

    We were all prenatal once. We all embarked on our life journey at conception. How strange we are to have so many levels of values for the one life. Precious baby, sacred little children?

  • nesyl

    We were all prenatal once. We all embarked on our life journey at conception. How strange we are to have so many levels of values for the one life. Precious baby, sacred little children?