Demanding Life in Ireland

by William Saunders

Dublin — This weekend, I stood at one of the largest rallies in Irish history. More than 50,000 people gathered to demand the government withdraw its bill legalizing abortion.

The crowd included people of every age, from toddlers to the elderly, of both sexes, handicapped and not.

They were joyously pro-life but steely determined to defend the innocent.

They were here to stop the government from forcing through a pro-abortion law.

This bill is supposedly “required” by the European Court of Human Rights’s decision in ABC vs. Ireland two years ago.

The lead party in the government, Fine Gael, campaigned in the last election on a promise not to legalize abortion. It is abandoning that commitment now, and the Irish people are expressing their outrage.

There are, of course, some domestic political complications, but two things are clear. Fine Gael is not allowing its members to vote according to their conscience. And despite threats from party leadership, some courageous members of Fine Gael are voting against the bill.

What will happen? No one knows for certain, but if the bill passes the lower house this week, it goes to the upper house. The odds are against pro-life members of the parliament, but neither they — nor the Irish people — are backing down.

Will the Irish politicians allow the Irish people to decide the abortion issue, or will they bow to the European Court of Human Rights?

— William Saunders is senior vice president for legal affairs and senior counsel at Americans United for Life.