It’s that time again, folks! Time to take stock of what disingenuous claims and downright lies are being peddled by anti-choice supporters these days. I’ve touched on some stuff before, but as the national discussion (or “debate”, as some people call it) has advanced, so too have the misrepresentations of various groups and individuals on the pro-life/anti-choice camp.

Why am I writing this? While abortion is a polarised and heated topic in Ireland at the moment, there are many people who haven’t really formed an opinion on abortion, or haven’t really thought about it at all. The tactics used by anti-choice groups can seem quite convincing, and may sway people to agree with them without fully realising the reality behind the so-called “facts”. This post is bound to be biased to some extent, but I’m not trying to sway people in any direction: I’m simply pointing out the common misrepresentations that are put forth by anti-choice campaigners, so that Regular Joes and Josephines can understand the points more in-depth.

Pro-Life Laws Have Saved 100,000 Babies

This is a common one from Youth Defence. They state that Ireland’s laws on abortion have somehow “saved” 100,000 babies. First of all, I’m not sure how they arrive at this figure or how it’s calculated. Did Youth Defence go out and count how many people wanted an abortion but then changed their mind because of the law? I doubt it.

The reality is this. Ireland’s abortion laws prevented 100,000 women from having an abortion – in Ireland. In the 20 years that Youth Defence refer to for this figure, over 100,000 women travelled to the UK to have an abortion.

Ireland’s pro-life laws did not “save” anyone. They just forced women to have abortions abroad.

The Proposed Legislation Will Allow Abortion Up To Birth

It won’t. Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution guarantees that the right to life of the unborn be, insofar as possible, be vindicated. Therefore, a viable foetus cannot be aborted because of that article. There are no time limits in the current Heads of Bill, but there doesn’t need to be, as Article 15.4 puts precedence of the Constitution ahead of legislation. So, the time limit is already included in the Constitution.

Abortion Is Not A Treatment For Suicidal Ideation

This is a strawman argument regularly thrown about by anti-choicers, because nobody ever said it was a treatment. However, if a woman is suicidal (or otherwise distressed) because of her pregnancy, then the ending of that pregnancy forms a major part in the overall treatment. Removing the stressor from the stressed is a normal part of ensuring good mental health, whether that’s in our day-to-day lives or in counselling or psychiatric treatment.

Say, for example, your job makes you seriously depressed. Quitting your job doesn’t suddenly “cure” your depression, but it probably plays the most significant role in working through further treatment.

Abortion Is Never Needed To Save A Woman’s Life

This is another common one, often found with “a woman should get the life-saving treatment she needs”, so it’s something of a double misrepresentation.

In reality, up to 30 abortions take place every year in Ireland’s hospitals to save the life of the woman, according to the masters of two of Ireland’s maternity hospitals. Anti-choice people would have you believe that this life-saving treatment is not an abortion, and will practically bend over backwards not to call it an abortion. But the fact is, it is a therapeutic abortion, despite what some people say.

Ireland Has A Pro-Life Majority

It doesn’t. And when people say this, they assume it’s black and white, and ignore the grey area in the middle.

In an Ipsos MRBI/Irish Times poll conducted earlier this year, the results showed that:

  • 85% support abortion for some reason
  • 71% want legislation for X, where the mother’s life is at risk, including by suicide
  • 78% want abortion in cases where the mother’s health is at risk
  • 70% want abortion in cases of rape or incest.
  • 79% want abortion where the foetus is unviable and has no chance of survival outside the womb

That’s a lot of grey areas, isn’t it?

Even without this poll, the Irish public voted twice in favour of allowing abortion in cases where the woman is suicidal (this resulted from the X Case in 1992): in 1992 and 2002. Anti-choice campaigners and groups are demanding that this democratic will of the people be ignored, in order to suit the agenda of a minority.

So there you have it. The realities behind some of the lies and misrepresentations purported by anti-choice/pro-life groups and people. If you’ve come across this post in an effort to learn more about the discussion, I hope it has helped you see things a bit clearer.