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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Irish society will look like Britain’s if it legalises abortion, says UK bioethicist

3 May 2018


The United Kingdom’s leading pro-life group says that voters in this month’s referendum need only to take a look at Britain to imagine what Ireland will look like if it legalises abortion.

The claim comes from Dr Anthony McCarthy, editor of Abortion Matters, as he is due to arrive in Dublin to promote the book published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the implementation of the British Abortion Act. 

Dr McCarthy, bioethicist and communications director at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), believes that the people of Ireland can learn a lot from the history of abortion in Britain.

“Fifty years ago our politicians insisted that the new law would not mean abortion on demand. Today, not counting miscarriages, around one in five pregnancies ends in abortion. Disabled babies can be lawfully aborted right up to term, and prenatal screening programmes mean that nine out of ten babies suspected of having Down’s syndrome are simply eliminated before birth.  Research carried out internationally both by pro-life and by pro-choice academics has found harmful mental health outcomes for women*, including in the case of abortion where the baby has a life-limiting condition.** It has also found many harmful physical outcomes associated with abortion.*** 

“The people of Ireland are in a much better position to understand how legalised abortion will affect their society than the British people were in 1967. We know much more about foetal development and pregnancy is far safer than it was 50 years ago. Anyone wondering how they should vote in the referendum should look closely at what has happened in Britain. Abortion Matters will show them what Ireland will be like in years to come,” said Dr McCarthy.

While the number of Irish women travelling to England for abortions has steadily declined over the last 15 years, from 6673 in 2001 to 3265 in 2016, the number of abortions in Britain has remained at roughly 200,000 per year. Despite it being the most commonly performed procedure within the National Health Service, Dr McCarthy argues that abortion is still a highly contentious issue.

“British society is deeply conflicted about abortion even 50 years on. Yet, abortion advocates are increasingly intolerant of any dissent. Conscience protection within the health care professions is extremely restricted, and there are growing efforts to silence anyone within higher education who continues to object to abortion, and even to curtail peaceful acts of witness in public places. These attacks on civil rights - the basic human right to life, but also freedom of conscience and freedom of speech -  are all part of the legacy of legalised abortion. 

Commenting on Abortion Matters, Professor Patricia Casey, Professor of Psychiatry at the Department of Adult Psychiatry, UCD and Consultant Psychiatrist in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, said: “This book will provide those who are committed to protecting unborn life with a unique knowledge of the arguments supporting this position. The philosophical, scientific and human rights issues raised by abortion are highlighted and cogently demonstrate that the arc of history is on the side of life.” 

Abortion Matters seeks to provide clear, convincing answers to the most fundamental questions relating to abortion, the nature of human life from its earliest beginnings and the profound effect that 9 million abortions have had on British society on both a personal and a national level. With the referendum on the Eighth Amendment only weeks away, a book of this kind could not be more relevant to Irish readers.

Dr McCarthy will officially launch Abortion Matters  in Ireland at a press reception in Buswell’s Hotel, 23-27 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2, D02 DT80​, on Tuesday 8 May at 7.30 pm at which copies of the book will be available to purchase.

Notes to editors:

  • *Fergusson, David M., L. John Horwood and Joseph M. Boden (2008) ‘Abortion and Mental Health Disorders: Evidence from a 30-Year Longitudinal Study’, British Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 193, No. 6, pp. 444–451. Fergusson, David M., L. John Horwood and Joseph M. Boden (2013) ‘Does Abortion Reduce the Mental Health Risks of Unwanted or Unintended Pregnancy? A Re-Appraisal of the Evidence’, Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 47, No. 9, pp. 819–827; Coleman, Priscilla K. (2011) Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995–2009” British Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 199 No. 3, pp 180-186. 
  • ** Cope, Heidi et al (2015) 'Pregnancy continuation and organizational religious religious activity following prenatal diagnosis of a lethal fetal defet are associated with improved psychological outcome, Prenatal Diagnosis, Vol. 35, No. 8, pp. 761-768.
  • *** Abortion and Womens Health

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Comments (1)


    4 May 2018, 2:15pm

    I hope Ireland vote to keep the 8th Amendment that protects both the Mother and the Unborn Child.
    It is proven that abortion causes trauma to the would be mother and has had link to suicides .
    The UK should be following Ireland and have an eighth Amendment style law to protect the unborn and not the other way around.

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