The Pro Life Campaign have today taken out an advertisement in the Irish Independent, in which it challenges the Irish government in its plans to legislate for the X Case.

In this ad the group continues along the current anti-choice theme of demanding that Enda Kenny (An Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael) keeps his “pro life promise”. This is a mantra repeated over and over again, so I was interested in what Mr Kenny actually said. So, with that, I took to Google.


Hmm. Not much about a “pro life promise” on the first page of results, anyway. Although, the anti-choice campaign makes up almost all hits, as you can see; they certainly know how to saturate with their marketing campaigns. I checked the first result, and it those posts on were made in 2007, years before the European Convention of Human Rights made recommendations to Ireland, so I guess that result is not directly relevant (glancing through that page it was pretty much a discussion on the stances of parties and how they compare to each other).

But wait! Result number 5: “Kenny Denies Pro-Life Promise“. Now this could be interesting. This article says:

The Fine Gael Campaign issued a statement on February 17, 2011, just over a week before polling day saying that “Fine Gael is opposed to the legalisation of abortion”. The statement continued with an undertaking to establish an all-party Oireachtas Committee, with access to medical and legal expertise, to consider the implications to the ABC v. Ireland Case and to make recommendations.

The statement, according to, says that Fine Gael are opposed to legislation to abortion. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but that is not a promise, or anything like one.

For example, a person could opposed to theft, but does that mean they promise never to steal a loaf of bread to feed their hungry family? That may not be the best analogy, but I trust you get the point: being opposed to or in favour of something does not equate to a promise.

But let’s continue. Where would Fine Gael have their pre-election plans laid out? Why, their 2011 General Election Manifesto, of course! As it happens, there is only one single mention of abortion in the manifestion (section 4.3, page 24):

European Court of Human Rights Judgement on Abortion: We will establish an all-party committee, with access to medical and legal expertise, to consider the implications of the recent ruling of the ECHR and to make recommendations. Such a process would, we believe, be the best way of examining the issues in a way that respects the range of sincerely-held views on this matter.

Now this sounds a bit more like a promise. “We will establish…” rather than “We are in favour of establishing…”. Irish Election Literature also directed me to this letter from Phil Hogan, which echoes the above statement from the election manifesto.

It seems that the Pro Life Campaign misunderstood correspondence from some Fine Gael members who stated that abortion would definitely not be legislated for (which is was never the party’s policy), mixed in confusion of the difference between a promise and a stance, and from that concoction created “Enda’s Pro Life Promise” which is being bandied about to no end these days.

But, if you ask me, such a promise never existed.