Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 12
No. 2
March, 2018
 
Focus on Ireland
Ireland to Vote on Legalizing Abortion on Demand

The Irish government is moving forward with a national referendum on the Eighth amendment this May 25, putting the future of the nation’s pro-life laws in the hands of the voting public. Ireland’s Eighth amendment protects the right to life of the unborn and has made Ireland one of the most pro-life countries in the world with one of the lowest maternal deaths.

 

The referendum vote will be to repeal article 40.3.3 of the Constitution which states:The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

And replace it: “Provision may be made in law for regulation of termination of a pregnancy." The referendum language is contained in the Thirty Sixth Amendment of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2018  “for the regulation of termination of pregnancy”.

 

The health minister released that 5 page Policy Paper, Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy that is to guide lawmakers in the Dáil and Senate. The Policy Paper describes the governments recommendations for a “General Scheme of a Bill regulating termination of pregnancy in Ireland should the proposed referendum be passed.”


The Policy Paper details the government’s recommendations in 21 points on when and how abortion will be allowed. One of the most controversial points is that the government seeks “termination of pregnancy up to 12 weeks of pregnancy without specific indication”, in other words—abortion on demand.

In regard to gestational limits, Point 9 states that “termination of pregnancy for a fetal condition likely to lead to death before or shortly after birth or for maternal health should not have a gestational limit in the General Scheme.”

Other Points include treating physical and mental health risks the same, a two to three day waiting period after requesting an abortion or abortion-inducing pills, certification  by a ‘medical practitioner’ that an abortion has occurred and subsequent notification to the Minister for Health.  The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, 2013 “would be repealed in full.”

The next step begins with debate commencing on March 20 to advance legislation following the government’s General Scheme.

Minister for Health Simon Harris is joined in support for repeal of the Eight amendment by Prime Minister Leo Varadkar,  Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty, Minister for Education Richard Bruton, and Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan. All have announced their strong support to “repeal” the law and vow to campaign “rigorously” for the referendum.

In regard to the position of political parties, neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil have taken a formal position on the referendum. Sinn Féin supports repealing the Eighth amendment but its official party policy does not support abortion on demand for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

 

International Pressure for Abortion
Pressure on Malta to Legalize Abortion
The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, recently published an opinion editorial on his trip to Malta-Need to reform abortion law-
where he called for the legalization of abortion under the guise of human rights. Malta has one of the world's lowest maternal mortality rates while banning all abortion.
 
Muiznieks acknowledged the core pro-life belief in Malta, and by an overwhelming majority of countries around the world, when he wrote: "Some argue that access to abortion care is not a matter of women's human rights. Others, in Malta and elsewhere, question whether this is a human right at all."
 
This universal respect for life was discounted by this so-called expert as he stated,
"From a thorough analysis of human rights standards and jurisprudence applicable to Council of Europe Member States, it is clear to me that women's human rights cannot be protected without ensuring their effective access to safe and legal abortion care."
 
He also explained that while he is "aware that some argue in favour of restrictions on access to abortion on the basis of a purported "prenatal right to life"" his self-professed "thorough analysis of how the right to life is interpreted within core treaties" leads him to conclude "that this right does not apply prior to birth and that international human rights law and mechanisms do not recognise a prenatal right to life."
 
Muiznieks wants to see Malta legalize abortion to "ensure abortion care is available on a woman's request in early pregnancy and thereafter throughout pregnancy to protect women's health and life and ensure freedom from ill-treatment. The next step should be to ensure that no practical, financial or other barrier prevents women from accessing affordable abortion care services."
#SheDecidesDay: Opposition to US Pro-Life Foreign Policy
Organizers of the abortion fund, SheDecides, marked the one year anniversary of the first meeting of the so-called pro-abortion "Global Champions" on March 2, and rallied to support and celebrate SheDecides Day in a campaign that lasted until March 8, International Women's Day.
 
'SheDecides' was set up by the Netherlands in response to President Trump's reinstatement and expansion of the Mexico City Policy which stopped US population control and health funds to any international organization that performs or promotes abortion as a method of family planning. Now known as the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA), the policy will distribute US health funding to life-affirming international organizations that work to help women and children survive and thrive pregnancy and childbirth.
 
On Friday, pro-abortion activists 'celebrated' #SheDecidesDay promoting access to the violence of abortion with a social media campaign and actions in select locations around the world through what organizers describe as a "global movement" that now claims to be about more than abortion. The expansion of focus was likely brought on by the realization that a majority of donors want to save, not destroy, lives.
 
Pro-life social media responses were developed by Priests for Life; available here.
Read more here
Defending Life
USA: Report Finds Abortion Providers Received Over $1.5 Billion
Over 120 US House Members sent a letter in 2016 requesting information on the amount of federal funding given to pro-abortion providers and now the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released the long awaited report detailing the amount. The report shows that Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Marie Stopes International (MSI) received over $1.5 billion in tax payer dollars during a three year period from 2013-2015.
 
These groups spent $410 million in federal funding and received $1.2 billion in both federal and state money under federal programs that require shared funding. Four of the five top recipients were Planned Parenthood affiliates in California that were under investigation for the illegal transfer to fetal tissue by the Department of Justice.  MSI received $110 million and IPPF $14 million through global assistance. This was before the enactment of President Trump's Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA, formerly Mexico City Policy) that prohibits funding to organizations that perform or promote abortions.  
 
Rep. Diane Black, a former nurse who led the request for the study along with Rep. Pete Olson and Senator Joni Ernst, responded to the findings. "All of us in the healthcare field took an oath to fight for life, and abortion destroys that. Industry giants like Planned Parenthood perform more than 320,000 abortions every year, and this GAO report exposes that these atrocities are done at the expense of taxpayers. No matter our views on abortion, or the party label beside our name, we must ensure that our money is spent responsibly and with integrity."
 
Senator Joni Ernst stated, "More than $1.5 billion in tax payer's dollars should not go to an organization with such blatant disrespect for human life. That is why I introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and redirect those dollars to federally qualified health centers that provide actual comprehensive care and family planning services for women. We have made great strides to protect life under the Trump administration, but there is more work to be done, and we remain committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our society."
 
Rep. Chris Smith, co-chair of the congressional Pro-Life Caucus reacted to the report, "An audit, released today by a government watchdog, GAO, demonstrates the abortion industry's push to integrate abortion into primary healthcare services. Thankfully, under President Trump's Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy, international abortion groups, like MSI and IPPF, must agree to not perform or promote abortion in order to receive taxpayer dollars. This reform ensures that US international aid funds life-affirming care for both women and children. A similar protection should become the standard for all government funding; abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood - responsible for killing more than 7 million unborn children - must no longer be subsidized by the American taxpayer."
 
The House has passed Smith's No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act four times, the most recent in 2017. The bill languishes in the Senate awaiting action.
Poland: Parliament Advances Bill to Ban Eugenic Abortions
Polish lawmakers have struck down a bill to legalize abortion, yelling "shame!" against the proposed "Let's Save Women" bill. Instead, the Sejm is moving forward legislation to eliminate eugenic abortions. The "Stop Abortion" bill would ban all abortions on unborn children diagnosed with disabilities. Over 90 percent of unborn babies with Down syndrome are aborted in western society. Deputy Kaja Godek explained the importance of this bill, "The Polish health service dealing with a pregnant woman and her child is now forced to search for sick children. The original idea behind prenatal tests has been completely distorted. Instead of treating and preparing parents and doctors to receive a child and help him, he makes it easier to choose extermination." The pro-life legislation has strong support in parliament and the population, where it began as a citizens' initiative.
USA: States Advancing Pro-Life Bills
2018 is off to a busy start as states are making big moves to enact pro-life laws. At least nine states have legislation poised to restrict and regulate abortion by prohibiting late term abortions based on the baby's ability to feel pain, banning abortion for babies diagnosed with Down syndrome, and defunding Planned Parenthood. The Mississippi House of Representatives has approved a bill to ban all abortions after 15 weeks pregnancy; Iowa's Senate approved a bill to ban abortion when a heartbeat is detected; and South Carolina, Florida and Ohio are considering legislation to ban dismemberment abortions.
 
"The focus at the state level has been on protective legislation, focusing on protecting the baby and the mother," said Ingrid Duran with National Right to Life. "We see that a lot, not only with the dismemberment bans, but also with laws like the Pain-Capable Child Protection Act and laws based on informed consent." Last year, abortion advocate Guttmacher Institute reported that 19 states adopted 63 new restrictions on abortion, the most since 2013. 
Focus on the United Nations
Working to Turn a Generation Pro-Abortion through CSE
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) called for the removal of laws protecting unborn children from the violence of abortion in Northern Ireland during review of the United Kingdom's report on article 8 of the Optional Protocol. The report follows a complaint filed by pro-abortion NGOs-The Family Planning Association; Northern Ireland Women's European Platform; Alliance for Choice-in 2010 charging that pro-life laws violated article 8 of the treaty which states, "States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure to women, on equal terms with men and without any discrimination, the opportunity to represent their Governments at the international level and to participate in the work of international organizations."
 
According to the official UN press report, "The UK violates the rights of women in Northern Ireland by unduly restricting their access to abortion, a UN expert committee has found." 

The CEDAW committee claims that restrictions on abortion in Northern Ireland require women to leave Northern Ireland "to procure a legal abortion" and that the situation "constitutes violence against women that may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," according to CEDAW Vice-Chair Ruth Halperin-Kaddari.
 
Halperin-Kaddari also stated, "Denial of abortion and criminalization of abortion amounts to discrimination against women because it is a denial of a service that only women need. And it puts women in horrific situations."
 
The Committee stated, "The Committee finds that statements by authorities reinforce the characterisation of abortion as a strictly moral issue rather than a health and human rights one....Other statements made by politicians and government officials, including the characterisation of a woman's primary role as a mother, have reinforced gender stereotypes steeped in patriarchy, thereby contributing to the belief that it is acceptable to deny women reproductive choice."
 
CEDAW Committee made 13 recommendations to remedy what it labeled as "grave or systematic violations" of the treaty including adopting legislation to allow abortion for (i) Threat to the pregnant woman's physical or mental health without conditionality of "long-term or permanent" effects; (ii)Rape and incest; (iii)Severe foetal impairment.

The complete report and recommendations can be found here
Pro-Abortion Guide to UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies
A revised guide on how pro-abortion activists serving as 'experts' on UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies distort and manipulate treaties to advance access to abortion has been released by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The guide promotes the extreme view that portrays pro-life laws that restrict access to abortion, including waiting periods, as violations of a woman's "rights to life, health,privacy, equality, and freedom from torture or ill-treatment."
 
Breaking Ground 2018: Treaty Monitoring Bodies on Reproductive Rights details the select recommendations made by individuals serving on treaty monitoring bodies to governments on issues including abortion and states that the booklet is "intended to provide treaty body experts and human rights advocates with succinct and accessible information on the standards being adopted across treaty monitoring bodies surrounding these important rights." The goal of the booklet is to promote the 'norm' that abortion is a right while in reality while no such right exists and no UN treaty says it does.
 
The elimination of restrictions on abortion are promoted including removal of parental consent laws for minors, waiting periods, mandated counseling before abortion, and laws that criminalize abortion and impose penalties on violators. Conscientious objection is presented as being acceptable only when applied to individuals and not to institutions and that states must "regulate its use to ensure it does not undermine access to abortion services, and that a failure to do so may violate the right to be free from torture or ill-treatment."
 
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) has voiced opposition to laws restricting abortion claiming that denial of access to abortion may be "based on gender stereotypes about the traditional roles of women as mothers and caregivers, which may also constitute gender discrimination and undermine gender equality".
 
The booklet offers policy-makers insight into pro-abortion arguments and the likely recommendations that can be expected during review of country reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee), the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR Committee), the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee), and the Human Rights Committee.
Legislative News
Argentina: Bill to Legalize Abortion
The Chamber of Deputies has for the 7th time seen the introduction of a bill to legalize abortion as 71 members of different political parties sponsored The Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy InitiativeThe legislation consists of 13 articles and would legalize abortion for the first 14 weeks of pregnancy "in the exercise of the human right to health". Past 14 weeks, abortion would be permitted in the case of professed rape; for life or physical, mental or social health of the woman; and in the case of "serious fetal malformations".
 
Argentina's conservative President Mauricio Macri stated during his address to Congress that the legalization of abortion should be included in the 2018 agenda and that he favored "mature, responsible debates" and hopes that "all voices are heard and are taken into consideration", even though he is opposed to it.
India: Parliamentary Panel Recommends Expanding Abortion Access
An Indian parliamentary panel has recommended allowing abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, suggesting a change to the existing law, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971. The panel's recommendation is based on a recent article in the Lancet Global Health that cited a rising number of unsafe abortions in the country. The article claimed 11.5 million of the 15.6 million abortions in India in 2015 took place in outside facilities and were "unsafe". The legislative committee stated, "The committee strongly recommends the government to amend the MTP Act, 1971 to remove these weak spots and raise the permissible period of abortions to 24 weeks with this bar not applying to unborn babies having serious abnormalities." The panel also urged removing the word "married" and updating the law to accommodate women who may be pregnant out of wedlock.
 
Judicial News
Canada: Court Rules Doctors Must Refer for Assisted Suicide
Ontario's Divisional Court has ruled that doctors must refer to euthanasia, affirming restrictions to their conscientious objection rights. The judges ruled that "equitable referral" is necessary to protect vulnerable patients. The restrictions had been instituted by College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in its MAiD policy. Doctors and professional organizations had protested the policy, claiming it violated their rights of conscience and religion as protected in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Now those doctors could be investigated and disciplined for objecting to assisted suicide explained Larry Worthen, the executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society. "It puts them in an impossible situation," he said.
AU: Canberra Court Rules Silent Prayer is Not Protest

A Canberra court has ruled silent prayer outside an abortion clinic is not protest. With the passage of an "exclusion zone" law in 2016, Canberra outlawed public protests outside abortion facilities. Three men who had been participants in regular pro-life protests before the new law continued to show up every Friday to silently and individually pray. Abortion providers at the Marie Stopes clinic protested their silent presence. The men, Kerry Mellor, John Popplewell, and Ken Clancy, were fined and ultimately ended up in court, where Magistrate Glenn Theakston ruled that the men were not involved in a "protest, by any means". Based on their behavior which was observed with video surveillance, Magistrate Theaktson noted, "I accept they were engaged in silent prayer, and that such prayer involved no component of expression, communication or message to those around them.


"We were doing nothing that would single us out from any other person in the street, everybody's entitled to their personal prayers," said Mr. Popplewell.  



 
 
Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues
Advancing global respect and dignity for life through law and policy.

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www.PNCIUS.org has been updated with expanded information on Human Dignity and critical issues including: Abortion, Bioethics, Child Mortality, End of life issues, Infanticide, Maternal mortality and Sex-selective abortion.
 
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