U2 made a disappointing, but not surprising, statement this week when they expressed their support for the “Repeal the 8th” movement, a campaign dedicated to opening Ireland’s doors to abortion on demand. The Irish band — famous for inflated egos, leftist activism, and, occasionally, music — encouraged fans to vote “Yes” in the upcoming referendum to the repeal of the 8th amendment of the Irish constitution. The 8th amendment guarantees the equal right to life of both mothers and their unborn babies. Should the amendment be stripped from the constitution, unborn Irish babies would be left without any protection under the law.
While U2, and other vapid celebrities, are happy to jump in with a tweet or the occasional bit of hashtag activism for a trendy cause, what they fail to address is the reality of the situation for pregnant women in Ireland or what repealing the 8th amendment would really mean for the country. More often than not, they seem to rely on the misleading talking points of “Repeal” campaigners.
International abortion proponents like to argue that Ireland’s pro-life laws are backward, burdensome, or that women in Ireland are dying because abortion is not available. These claims couldn’t be further from the truth.
Irish doctors have always been able to treat women, and offer them high quality care throughout pregnancy, without abortion. In Ireland, pregnant cancer patients are regularly treated with a “two-patient model” while, in the United States, pregnant cancer patients often find themselves pressured to abort.
Additionally, repeal campaigners routinely ignore the fact that despite (or possibly because of) Ireland’s pro-life laws, pregnant women are safer there than almost anywhere else. Ireland regularly has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the developed world. When compared to countries with comparable levels of high level healthcare (such as the United States, Britain, or the Netherlands), Ireland's maternal mortality rate is typically lower, though elective abortion is freely available (and often free of charge) in these other Western nations.
In fact, a 2013 report in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, which compared 40 years of maternal and neonatal data from Britain (where abortion has been legal since 1967) to data from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (both of which prohibit abortion) found that Irish mothers and babies were statistically better off than their British counterparts. The maternal mortality rate in Ireland was consistently lower than Britain’s — despite British women’s easy access to abortion services. Additionally, both stillbirth and preterm birth rates were significantly lower in pro-life Ireland than their abortion-minded neighbors.
Irish doctors themselves seem reluctant to welcome abortion into Ireland. In a telling poll, two-thirds of Irish general practitioners stated they would refuse to participate in the government’s plan for medical abortions to be carried out by GP’s. Additionally, many consultant obstetricians and GP’s are speaking out against repeal, saying that abortion is not health care and the proposed legislation is far too extreme. According to Dr. Niall Maguire, “[T]here is a real risk that this [abortion] will ... undermine the value that is put on what a doctor does and the value that’s put on all lives, not just the unborn.”
Despite the insistence from abortion imperialists, women are, in fact, safer in pro-life Ireland. Ireland stands as one of the world’s few safe havens for mothers and their unborn babies due to laws and a health care system which value and protect them both. As the referendum vote looms on the horizon like a dark cloud, the Irish people should remember that and recognize the damage state-sponsored abortion has sadly ravaged in nations across the world.
The vacuous tweeting of celebrities and the relentless noise on social media will, inevitably, seek to dominate the abortion debate, but the facts speak for themselves: Ireland is better off without abortion.
Nora Sullivan is a Digital Communications Writer at the MRC and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Ms. Sullivan holds a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from University College Dublin and has extensive experience in pro-life research and policy work.