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Irish activists claiming abortion needed for suicidal women - again

20 June 2017


Is this using the stories of suicidal women another ploy by the repeal the eighth lobby?

The Abortion Support Network (ASN) has said that two suicidal women were denied abortions in Ireland - using the discredited idea that abortion is a cure for suicidality.

Mara Clarke, the ASN founder, said both of the women had already tried to kill themselves before they asked for legal abortions. One was told "at least twice" that she could not have an abortion on the grounds that her life was at risk from suicide, while the other was told at least once that she could not have a termination.

Referendum on the Eighth

The health minister, Simon Harris, said in response that Ireland must now deal with the issue of abortion "definitively". He pledged that he would make all possible resources available to draft legislation for a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment, which protects the right to life of an unborn child. Last week, the new Taoiseach said that a referendum will be held next year.

Does abortion help suicidal women?

The issue of abortion for women at risk of suicide was brought up in debate over the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act. This bill "clarified" the law in relation to the Supreme Court judgement in the "X Case", which allowed for abortion where pregnancy endangers a woman's life, including through a risk of suicide.

However, in a special hearing of a government committee convened to examine the legislation, all the medical experts agreed that abortion is NOT a treatment where a pregnant mother is in distress and is contemplating suicide. In fact, they gave evidence that abortion can increase the risk of suicide. This video from the Life Institute explains the key findings:

NO evidence

For instance, Prof Patricia Casey, who ran the attempted suicide service at the Mater Hospital, said: 

"..there is no evidence that abortion reduces suicide risk in pregnant women, and there is some evidence that it may have a negative effect in some instances."

Many other quotes from the hearing can be found here.

A cynical ploy

SPUC's Communications Officer Alithea Williams commented saying: "Using the plight of suicidal and depressed women to push for abortion in Ireland is clearly a cynical ploy on the part of abortion activists, especially given the mounting evidence of the negative effects of abortion on women's mental health. It's hard to see how they truly have women's best interests at heart. As a SPUC briefing from the time explains, psychiatrists who genuinely believe there is a "real and substantial risk" of suicide should commit the woman to a psychiatric hospital and put her on suicide watch for her own protection, let alone that of the child. How would rushing her to an abortion clinic instead help the situation?

"Women at risk of suicide need proper medical care and psychiatric support - not abortion."

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