Is the following is one of the issues which needs to be addressed by our government prior to the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill coming on the statute books?
One way to test a piece of legislation is to present a specific case. In the matter of Section 9 of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy bill, dealing with risk of loss of life from suicide, we can ask how it would apply in the following case.
A woman is told, “You’re having a little girl. Isn’t that wonderful?” She replies, “Wonderful! My family will be delighted!” But the truth is that her husband/family/extended family most certainly will not be delighted; nor she herself.
This is no trivial matter. “Son preference” is deeply engrained in some cultures, where the natural ratio of about 105 boys for every 100 girls is skewed by “gendercide”. (This preference for sons is often passed on to the next generation by women.) There are over 100 million “missing” women in the world due to “son preference”. It is a serious anti-woman factor in abortion in our world.
What if a woman in this situation in Ireland presents, threatening suicide, because she simply cannot give birth to another girl? The pressure may not be external, but may be interiorised by the woman. This is not a pretence for the purpose of terminating the pregnancy: it is very real. Medical practitioners would have to recognise the real and substantial risk of suicide in such a case.
Section 9 of the legislation as it stands permits a medical procedure in which an unborn human life is ended where three medical practitioners certify that there is a real and substantial risk of loss of the woman’s life by way of suicide, and, in their reasonable opinion, that risk can only be averted by carrying out that medical procedure. There is no reference in the Bill to the source of the threat of suicide. It just has to be real and substantial. There may simply be no way to neutralise the factors leading to the threat of suicide.
The gender of an unborn child can be determined from about 6 weeks. Abortion for the purpose of gender selection is illegal in England and Wales, but there are reports of it under other headings; others simply go abroad to where it can be carried out. It may seem a remote matter for Ireland, but in our multicultural society, we too must face this. In the EU, the services we offer could perhaps be open to any EU citizen. Even some very pro-abortion activists realise this is a problem.
Do we need to consider placing restrictions on this and other possible applications of Section 9 before it becomes law? Would it even be possible to place any restriction under Section 9 as it now stands? Can we afford to ignore this?
A 2012 EU study, “Gendercide: The Missing Women” is available on
Male / Female Birth statistics in Ireland
Data from Central Statistics Office
Births: Male births /Female births / = Ratio
- 2012: 8791 / 8,178 = 1.07
2012: 37,210 /35,015 = 1.06
2011: 38,223 /36,427 = 1.05
2010 38,395 /36,779 = 1.04
2009 38,082 /36,196 = 1.05
(2008 38,593 /36,472 = 1.06) (Stats later corrected)
2005 31,369 /29,673 = 1.06
2004 31,817 /29,867 = 1.07
2003 31,414 /30,103 = 1.04
2002 31,001 /29,520 = 1.05
2001 29,753 /28,129 = 1.06
2000 27,896 /26,343 = 1.06
1999 27,508 /25,846 = 1.06
1998 27,580 /25,971 = 1.06
1997 26,855 /25,456 = 1.05