Two years ago, Ireland held a referendum that resulted in the repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution, which gave explicit constitutional protection to unborn human life. The amendment had been in place since a previous constitutional referendum in 1983.
With this protection now out of the way, a new, and very liberal abortion law came into force in January of last year. How many abortions would there be in Ireland as a result? Now we know. In Ireland in 2019, 6,666 terminations took place, a horribly symbolic number.
The figure was revealed in the first annual abortion report produced by the Minister for Health on Tuesday. To the figure of 6,666 must be added another 375 Irish women who travelled to Britain for abortions last year despite the availability of the procedure in Ireland. This brings us to a total of 7,041.
Was this in line with expectations? It depends on who you ask. It was more or less in line with what pro-life campaigners were expecting, but higher than pro-choice advocates predicted. For instance, one very prominent doctor insisted that when a country liberalises its abortion law, the number of terminations goes down, not up.
We will never know for sure how many Irish women were having abortions annually prior to 2019, but we can make a good estimate. We do know that in 2018, 2,879 Irish women travelled to the UK for a termination.
Abortion campaigners informed us that another three women per day were buying the abortion pill illegally online. If we take this at face value, it adds roughly another 1,100 to the total bringing us to around 4,000 abortions.
Even if we roughly double the number of women who were illegally purchasing the abortion pill online and using it at home, we still struggle to get above 5,000 pregnancies terminated in 2018.
If we take 5,000 as our starting point, it means that Ireland has seen a 40% increase in its abortion rate in a single year. That is a very alarming jump.
It is what pro-life groups feared would happen. International experience shows that making something legal helps to normalise it and make it more acceptable. The more acceptable something becomes, the more of it there will be, generally speaking. This is what happened in Britain after the 1967 Abortion Act.
When the number was published on Tuesday, pro-choice voices were noticeably quiet. The data made it impossible for them to denounce pro-life groups for unnecessarily frightening the public during the referendum about repeal leading to more terminations.
Instead, abortion campaigners highlighted the fact that the vast majority of terminations occurred early in pregnancy (which is the case virtually everywhere), and also that our rate of abortion is still a lot lower than in the UK, which is also true.
When you are looking at the big jump in the Irish figures, however, it is hardly the point.
What we can now say with a large degree of certainty is that the repeal of the Eighth Amendment resulted in the deaths of an additional 2,000 human lives in Ireland last year, over and above which would have happened if the amendment was still in place.
To put this in context, Ireland has so far seen 1,734 deaths related to Covid-19. Tragically, there will be more Covid deaths, and the virus will be around for some time yet, but for the indefinite future we will see thousands of additional deaths annually because of our new and liberal abortion law.
We can only conclude that the repeal of Ireland pro-life clause has been an unmitigated disaster for unborn human beings.
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