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Irish abortion law

June 2013

The Irish government has published a draft bill on abortion, which has been branded ‘worse than Britain’s 1967 Abortion Act’, by a spokesman for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).

     Speaking after the publication of the bill, called ‘Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013’, Pat Buckley, Ireland’s SPUC representative, said, ‘The bill has the potential to lead to widespread availability of abortion.

     ‘The Irish bill proposes to abolish sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, under which abortion in general remains a criminal offence.

     ‘That provision is retained even in Britain. The vast majority of abortions in Britain are in fact unlawful under the 1861 Act, if the Abortion Act were interpreted honestly instead of being widely flouted’.

     He said the bill goes beyond both the mental health grounds of Britain’s 1967 Abortion Act and of British case law, such as the 1938 Bourne judgement. Unlike British law, the Irish bill makes suicide an explicit, statute-level ground for abortion.

     Mr Buckley said, ‘The bill explicitly removes protection for unborn children before implantation in the womb, ensuring they can be aborted legally by drugs and devices such as the morning-after pill.

     ‘Even the name of the bill is misleading and hypocritical, as it does not protect unborn life in a wide variety of circumstances, and is contrary to the equal protection for mothers and their unborn children under the Irish Constitution’.

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