On May 25, Ireland, the country where I was born and raised, will vote in a referendum to decide whether to strip an entire group of persons – pre-born children – of their constitutional rights.

Article 40.3.3, known as the Eighth Amendment, was voted into the Irish Constitution by referendum in 1983. It says: ‘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.’

As a consultant obstetrician, Eamon McGuinness, wrote in the Irish Times: ‘The Eighth Amendment has one medical effect only: it prevents Irish doctors from deliberately, as an elective matter, causing the death of an unborn child. It awards to the child in the womb the right to have their life protected in Irish hospitals, in Irish GP surgeries, and in Irish operating theatres.

That right does not restrict doctors from acting to save the life of a woman where a serious complication arises.’

There has been a significant and effective campaign to remove the Eighth Amendment, and the opinion polls suggest it will pass. When this happens, Ireland will become the first nation on earth, in the era of the ultrasound that clearly reveals the beauty and humanity of the pre-born child, to designate a group of persons as unworthy of constitutional and human rights.

The unborn child is transformed into a sub-person, or a sub-human: a human being no longer worthy of equal protection before the law.

It is true that there are very difficult cases, where the unborn child is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition, or is conceived through rape. But the tiny minority of tragic cases are being used to dehumanise the unborn child and propose one of the most liberal abortion regimes in Europe, namely abortion on demand for no given reason until at least 12 weeks post conception, and arguably further depending on how a vague ‘health’ ground is interpreted.

Supporters of repeal point to the thousands of Irish women who travel to England for abortions or obtain abortion pills online, so they say everything will be safer, legal and rare if we ‘bring abortion home’ and have GP-led provision of abortions.

However, many GPs in Ireland say they have not been consulted nor are they equipped to deal with this in a surgery setting. It might be ‘GP-led’ but on current proposals abortions will not be GP-supervised. No effort has been made to think about how to reduce the number of abortions abroad. Instead we are told: get with the programme.

As to be expected, the pro-abortion campaigners fill their demands with the language of compassion and care. I have no doubt there are many Irish voters who are deeply troubled by this issue and many will vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment in good conscience.

But I do object to the Orwellian abuse of the language. There is ultimately nothing compassionate about ending the life of an unborn child and there is little compassion in flushing a ‘mere’ early-stage embryo down a toilet. They are one of us at their earliest stages of development within their mother’s womb.

There is even less care in dismembering foetuses during a later-stage abortion, and I will not discuss the absolute barbarity involved in late-term abortions. There is no care in killing the innocent, which is why well before the dawn of Christianity, when medicine took its first steps from the mythical to the scientific, it was specifically prohibited under the Hippocratic Oath, the sworn declaration taken by doctors in Ancient Greece to do no harm.

But we are told Ireland must ‘move on’. Move on to where, I don’t know – the land where humans are divided into those worthy of constitutional protection and those who are not – the land where the sub-humans, the non-persons are singled out for termination.

I have never witnessed so many people be so eager to access abortifacients so they can have the right to end the lives of the next generation. But there it is: this is ‘progress’, I am told, and who am I to stand in their way? Progress seems to include: do harm, if that is your desire.

This referendum will go down in history. In the event of Repeal, Ireland will be the only country that actively chooses to dehumanise a category of humans, not to adopt evil traditions already in place, but to strip by referendum the constitutional rights of their own unborn children.

Progress indeed.

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