Re: Referendum Misstatements by Hildegarde Naughton TD 24th May 2018
There is inadequate space and time here to contradict every misstatement in Hildegarde Naughton TD’s attempt to discredit the No side (‘Debunking the arguments of those opposed to repeal’, Connacht Tribune, 24th May 2018). Instead, I will let the readers judge for themselves.
In her article, Ms Naughton says :
“the notion that there is no constitutional protection for the unborn is simply inaccurate”
Not so.The Supreme Court in March made it clear that repeal would sweep away the rights of the unborn child, stating at para. 10.62 of the Court’s judgment :
“…the only right of the unborn child as the Constitution now stands which attracts the entitlement to protection and vindication is that enshrined by the amendments in Article 40.3.3 namely the right to life, or in other words, the right to be born ...”
Ms. Naughton is also contradicted by the Referendum Commission, which says in its website “…the Supreme Court decided that the only constitutional right of the unborn is the right to life which was created by Article 40.3.3˚.”
In her article, Ms. Naughton says :
“The ‘No’ campaign suggests that we will allow for abortions up to birth. That is false.”
Not so. The legislation published by Minister Simon Harris allows for abortions up to birth in some cases and itself says:
“’termination of pregnancy’ means a medical procedure which is intended to end the life of the foetus”
and foetus is defined as the child “during the period of time commencing after implantation in the uterus of a woman and ending on the complete emergence … from the body of the woman.”
These terms are quite clear to anyone and nowhere in Head 6 of the legislation, for example, is there a limitation on the period during which an abortion can be carried out.
In her article, Ms Naughton states :
“All the legal advice states that we have to repeal the Eighth Amendment if we want to help victims of rape or incest.”
Not so. The Eighth Amendment could have been amended (as happened in 1992 to deal with information and travel) or could have been changed to allow legislation (as Michael McDowell proposed in 2002 when he was Attorney-General) to be enacted. The amendment could have been as simple as :
This subsection shall not invalidate laws enacted by the Oireachtas to permit and regulate the termination of a pregnancy which is alleged in a prescribed form to be the result of a crime committed against the mother.
There are numerous other incorrect statements in Ms Naughton’s article, for example regarding maternal healthcare, and the inaccuracies highlighted above should put people on their guard. There have been many slogans from the Government but little analysis of these extreme proposals. I would respectfully ask the People to say ‘No’ to abortion on demand and to the withdrawal of all constitutional protection from the most vulnerable.
Geoffrey Sumner, Barrister-at-Law
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