Statistics don’t back ‘civilised and compassionate’ claim

Statistics don’t back ‘civilised and compassionate’ claim

“each and every story of a difficulty experienced during pregnancy is heart-wrenching, precisely because the gift of a new child is such a beautiful thing”, writes Michael Kelly

Kate O’Connell, the Fine Gael TD for Dublin Bay South, gave an impassioned speech in the Dáil last week calling for access to abortion. Ms O’Connell fought the general election very much on that ticket and much of her literature carried the slogan “give choice a voice” – referring to the push to legalise the killing of unborn children under the guise of ‘choice’.

Deputy O’Connell spoke of her own experience when she was pregnant with her now five-year-old son. During the course of the pregnancy, the parents were told that their unborn child was suffering from a life-limiting condition. Ms O’Connell described her pain at her son being diagnosed with what was described as a “profound defect”.

“The pain and suffering of that time is deeply etched in my memory,” Deputy O’Connell told the Dáil whilst fighting back emotion.


Ms O’Connell continued with the pregnancy and went on to describe how her son is “now a fit and healthy five-year-old with a flair for social commentary”.

It would be impossible not to be moved by Ms O’Connell’s story – each and every story of a difficulty experienced during pregnancy is heart-wrenching, precisely because the gift of a new child is such a beautiful thing. The old saying goes that “every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man”.

Deputy O’Connell went on to call for the repeal of the eighth – life equality – amendment in the Constitution which protects the right to life of unborn children.

It strikes me as odd that Ms O’Connell cites the example of her own heartbreakingly difficult pregnancy and consequent birth of her son – “now a fit and healthy five-year-old with a flair for social commentary” – as a reason to legalise abortion.

But, what really struck me about the speech was the deputy’s contention that neighbouring Britain – where she has spent most of her adult life – has a “civilised and compassionate” approach to abortion.

In all, 185,824 abortions were carried out on women and girls in England and Wales in 2015 – the last year for which statistics are available. That was 1,253 (0.7%) more than the 184,571 performed in 2014, and the largest number since the 189,931 carried out in 2011.


A recent report compiled statistics that showed that one in three pregnancies in Britain ended in abortion.

Chillingly, 90% of unborn babies who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome in England Wales are aborted.

These statistics are devastating and should cause even the most ardent supporters of abortion legislation to pause for thought. At the very least, it puts paid to the myth that the abortion regime in Britain is either civilised or compassionate. We need an honest approach to this debate, one that doesn’t ignore the unpalatable facts.

Freedom of conscience

I’m all for free votes when it comes to matters of conscience. But, that’s somewhat more complicated when it comes to members of the Government who are – constitutionally – required to act as one. But there’s no reason why TDs and Senators should be whipped on vital issues of conscience. It’s a view that is now – thankfully – being articulated by many commentators and politicians alike. It’s striking, however, that many of the same commentators were of the view that Enda Kenny had no option to whip Lucinda Creighton and the other pro-life Fine Gael TDs and Senators during the 2013 vote on abortion in the Oireachtas. At that time, some commentators who are now praising the idea of a free vote, predicted that parliamentary democracy would fall apart if a free vote was allowed. I wonder if it’s a case of supporting a free vote if it favours the outcome one desires.

The insensitivity of language: Language can be so careless and insensitive as well as misleading. Many commentators and politicians calling for the legalisation of abortion use terms like ‘fatal foetal abnormality’ and ‘incompatible with life’ to refer to children in the womb. There’s a certain (deliberate?) dehumanising effect with such language. Perhaps, more importantly, the terms are often inaccurate.

We have heard countless stories of children who have been described as having a ‘fatal abnormality’ by doctors, who go on to to live full and active lives.