Lord, Save Us From the Purists

Ireland is on the verge of making abortion legal in some circumstances and the fault can be laid directly on the doorstep of a tiny handful of misguided pro-lifers ten years ago.

Ireland is vitally important to the international pro-life movement. Ireland remains one of the few nations in the world where abortion is illegal. At the same time, Ireland has one of the lowest rates of maternal mortality in the world, according to the United Nations.

This combination of pro-life laws and low maternal mortality demonstrates the false notion of pro-abortion advocates that pregnant mothers need abortion in order to stay alive. This remains one of their final arguments after all the rest have fallen by the wayside these past decades.

What pregnant women need to survive pregnancy—indeed what we discovered many years ago in the United States—is basic medical and health care. Ireland has this and at the same time protects the unborn child from abortion.

Ireland has been in the crosshairs of big-abortion for years. Almost annually, pro-abortion meddlers ensconced at the UN and other bodies scold Ireland for her restrictive laws on abortion. UN treaty monitoring bodies regularly tell Ireland to liberalize her abortion laws. Even abortion-friendly Irish governments have to tell the UN that the Irish people have spoken regularly that they are against abortion.  Indeed, there have been five national referenda on this topic in the past 30 years.

The last national referendum happened in 2002 that would have put unambiguous protection for unborn children in the Irish Constitution. The referendum would have closed an abortion loophole opened by the Irish Supreme Court that allows for abortion if the mother is suicidal. The Catholic Church and all the mainstream pro-life groups enthusiastically supported the referendum.

Enter Dana Scallon, who quite famously turned to politics after winning the Eurovision Song Contest and a lengthy recording career. Scallon was a darling of the pro-life movement and rightfully so. She was a fearless leader for the pro-life cause. She ran for the presidency of Ireland and lost and ended up in the European Parliament.

Scallon believed the 2002 referendum was really pro-abortion because it protected unborn children from implantation onward. To make it clear, the referendum would not have created a constitutional right to kill pre-implantation embryos which remained legislatively protected.

Scallon was joined in her campaign by John Smeaton who runs the London-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Smeaton became head of SPUC after a bloody 1999 battle with SPUC founder Phyllis Bowman, which resulted in SPUC under Smeaton losing most of its support in the British Parliament. Smeaton earned a reputation as a bare-knuckler in his battles with the elderly and much loved Bowman.

The 2002 referendum went down to defeat by a mere 11,000 votes. Liberal urban voters voted in large majorities to defeat the pro-life measure. A post-election poll showed that 30,000 (5%) of the no votes were from self-identified pro-lifers who had been persuaded by Scallon and Smeaton.

Experts in Ireland make it angrily clear that the current debate in Ireland, one that may bring legislative abortion to Ireland, is the fault of Scallon and to a lesser extent Smeaton.

The current debate revolves around the plight of a pregnant woman who died last fall. Abortion proponents say she could have been saved by direct abortion and are calling for legislative action to liberalize abortion laws, particularly for “suicidal” pregnant women. Pro-lifers see the suicide provision as subject to abuse and the beginning of abortion on demand.

Because the 2002 referendum failed, Irish abortion laws can be changed by the Parliament. Responsible pro-lifers are calling for the government to issue medical guidelines on what doctors are allowed and not allowed to do to save a mother’s life, excluding abortion. One of the interesting features of the Irish debate is the doctors have been almost universally pro-life and have said abortion is never medically necessary to save a mother’s life.

The battle lines are drawn. Sadly pro-life lines are being smudged once more. In recent days, Smeaton sent around a divisive note charging that Irish pro-life leaders are planning on compromising with pro-abortion forces. This was met with an angry rebuke from Irish pro-lifers who basically said Smeaton does not know what he’s talking about and after all he isn’t even Irish.

The fight for the unborn child brings out the best and sometimes the worst in human nature. People commit their entire lives to fighting for the unborn child and this is a great good. On the other hand, the fight is so desperate it encourages in some an inclination to purity.

Purists will oppose any improvement in the law if the law does not go all the way. The 2002 referendum in Ireland was not perfect so it had to be opposed.

The same debate goes on in the United States. Even now there is a not-so-healthy debate among pro-life leaders over the question of rape and incest exceptions. Some say that they would oppose outlawing abortion if the law left behind those children conceived in rape or incest. Of 1.2 million abortions in America, it is estimated 20,000 are for rape and incest. The purists would oppose ending 1,180,000 abortions if those 20,000 could not also be stopped at the same time.

This is madness. Even the Catholic Church would allow for such a bargain provided everyone understands the remaining law is still unjust and still needs to be changed. But, not the purists who say if you cannot save them all, then you should save none of them.

It is unclear how the current Irish debate ends. With the exception of a few outriders, the Irish movement is united. All eyes and prayers should be turned toward the good groups fighting for the unborn child in Ireland; Life & Family, Pro-Life Campaign, Iona Institute, and Youth Defense.

Austin Ruse


Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute. He is the author of Fake Science: Exposing the Left’s Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data published by Regnery. He is also the author of the new book Little Suffering Souls: Children Whose Short Lives Point Us to Christ published by Tan Books. The views expressed here are solely his own.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    I would point out the reverse is also true- incrementalists opposed to Personhood due to the supposed lack of exemptions. Even worse is the experience in the United States of Democrats for Life politicians, who often see pro-life bills in state legislatures denied by Republicans merely because the proposal came from a Democrat.

    If we cannot heal these divisions, the pro-life cause is doomed to failure.

    • John Francis Borra

      I fully agree with Ruse’s underlying thesis, that the incrementalist approach offers a better means of achieving our goal of comprehensively pro-life protections than what he refers to as the “purist” approach. After all, the anti-life lobby turned America into a bastion of abortion “rights” through incrementalism; we’re simply using their own wily strategy against them.

      However, I disagree with you about the so-called Democrats for Life. And it’s not because I’m registered as a Republican. I’m thoroughly convinced that they’re no more than a front group created by the party’s shrewd image-makers. This is based not only on my exchanges with their personnel, but on their nuanced statements and the legislative actions of their members in Congress. The goal is to give the impression that pro-lifers have a voice within the party leadership. This has the intended effect of undercutting the arguments and allaying the concerns of genuine pro-lifers at the grassroots level. It’s a clever strategy and has convinced a lot of people. But as we all witnessed during the last election cycle, climaxing with last year’s astonishing DNC platform debacle, the Democrat Party is as rabidly and unabashedly atheistic– and by extension, of course, anti-life– as ever. Perhaps more so… if that’s possible.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        I know a few Democrats For Life, including one who proposed a Personhood bill before the Ohio house. They will be the first to tell you they have NO voice in their party’s leadership-none at all.
        If you can get incrementalism to work, great. But do NOT block the efforts of other pro life people merely for partisianship or because you think a law is too strict or too loose.
        Try to remember that we are all in this together.
        Rebecca Hamilton’s blog about her experience as a public pro-life woman Democrat that cannot get SBA funding is at patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic

        You will NOT find any support for Obama or Planned Parenthood there. Nor euthanasia, the drone wars, the Death Penalty, or poverty. some support for gun ownership though, Ohio still has rural areas.

        • John Francis Borra

          I’m all for passing pro-life laws by any means possible, including overturning Roe v. Wade. But ask Democrats for Life about trying to overturn Roe; I was told directly by their PR people that Democrats for Life is against doing so. That was all I needed to know about DFL. No wonder bogus pro-lifers like Bob Casey, Jr. are members; they glean the votes of trusting pro-life constituents, then turn around and support anti-life bills like Obamacare. Classic left-wing con job.

  • lifeknight

    How can anyone advocate killing some of the babies some of the time? Really? To allow for exceptions is NOT the way to achieve any goals–politically or spiritually. A little bit of EVIL is still EVIL. God help us all. I am proud to be a purist!

    • Austin Ruse

      No one is “advocating” the killing of anyone. The Church teaches that one may accept an inferior abortion law if it moves the law in teh right direction. The Church does not teach that if you cannot save them all, then you can save none of them.

      • lifeknight

        Exceptions to abortion are killing. Because abortion is so intrinsically evil we can never advocate ANY abortion. One can advocate clinic regulations, ultrasound requirements, or parental consent, but NO ONE has the right to choose to kill an innocent human being. THAT is a consistent teaching of the Church! A “seat at the table” of political expedience can only make one appear as a hypocrite as well as divide the prolife movement.

        • Austin Ruse

          Again, no one here is advocating abortion.

    • Purists aren’t really purists

      Lord save us from lifeknight. If lifeknight were a spiritual director he/she would say, you must start a mystical prayer life right now! And you are the child of Satan if you cannot. You are hardly a Catholic if you try to incrementally introduce more prayer into your life. All or nothing baby!

  • Counter Punch

    This is pretty low quality punditry about a very serious matter. Much of this article is no more than character assassination of Dana and John Smeaton in order to undermine the position they and others took in 2002 and continue to take when it comes to legislative changes. There is no serious attempt to consider the actual legal and ethical considerations, Ruse prefers name calling. Shameful.

    • Austin Ruse

      This article touches in no way on the character of Scallon or Smeaton. The article says they made a mistake in pro-life tactics.

      • Viking

        This article is a very cheap shot at two pro-life leaders whose integrity you have unjustly impugned. Please justify: “Smeaton earned a reputation as a bare-knuckler in his battles with the elderly and much loved Bowman.” By coming out with such a statement you should show you know little or nothing about the disagreement between Smeaton and Bowman, and the idea that “Rocky” Smeaton somehow beat up on Phyllis Bowman is so far from the truth as to be actionable.

        Instead of explaining Smeaton’s positions in 2002 and now you dismissively say: “Smeaton does not know what he’s talking about and after all he isn’t even Irish.” Whereas, Mr Ruse, from thousands of miles further away in New York, you know precisely what you are talking about …even though you are, um (how embarrassing), not Irish.

        This is a truly pathetic and unnecessarily divisive article. There are arguments both for and against the incrementalist approach, and for you to diss the view you disagree with so cheaply does neither you nor the incrementalist approach you support no credit.

        • lifeknight

          I am not Irish, nor do I understand the politics of the issue on the Emerald Isle. I agree that the article is a backdoor assault on the characters of people who refuse to give support to incrementalism. I am not a theologian either, but I do recall the Catholic teaching that states one cannot do a moral evil to achieve a moral good.
          However, I AM a medical professional. I have seen an abortion. I know that ANY abortion is murder. No one—NO ONE can justify by incrementally approaching this issue that it is not sacrificing a life!….. An innocent life! It is wrong. It will NEVER be the way to accomplish the goal to cease the bloodshed….

          • Austin Ruse

            Actually, the Church does. Read Evangelium Vitae.

            • lifeknight

              Thank you for your educational suggestion. I am comforted by this quote from the encyclical you mention: “Among all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable. The Second Vatican Council defines abortion, together with infanticide, as an “unspeakable crime”. That about sums it up for me. I suppose this is precisely why we are unable to make progress in this discussion. The devil seeks to divide and conquer and he has successfully divided us. I will NEVER give assent to killing one baby! I see no “level playing field” for us to discuss this matter any further. I will pray to end abortion—–every one of them.

              • Austin Ruse

                EV very clearly teaches you may accept an inferior law as long as you make progress in defending life.

                • lifeknight

                  I would disagree that the EV allows for this approach. There are many citations of Church teaching in EV that challenge incrementalism. I think it is possible that your interpretation of it can be flawed.

                  • Austin Ruse

                    Then so is the interpretation of the Irish Bishops at that time. This is from their statement and specifically cites EV 73:

                    We encourage all our people to vote in the forthcoming referendum

                    12. In dealing with what appears to be a limited or imperfect
                    measure, we believe that, in the context of The Gospel of Life (#73),
                    Catholic voters should feel free in conscience to support this measure,
                    even if it is viewed as less than might have been desired.

                    13. We are of the view that a clear legal prohibition on procured
                    abortion, as set out in this proposal, represents an important step
                    towards ensuring adequate protection for the life of the unborn.
                    However, we are aware that legal measures alone will never suffice, and
                    that ultimately we must always be guided by the moral law, which forbids
                    deliberate abortion and demands that we do everything in our power to
                    cherish and support life at every moment of its existence.

                    14. Abortion, in the moral sense, “is the deliberate and direct
                    killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the
                    initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to
                    birth” (The Gospel of Life #58). Any intentional destruction of human life once begun, whether by experimentation, so-called therapeutic cloning,
                    chemical means, such as the morning-after pill, or by medical intervention is contrary to the moral law.

                • Viking

                  If EV ‘so clearly’ teaches this it should be posssible for you to produce the teaching. The best you could do is refer to EV 73 which says nothing that even approxiates to the idea that “you may accept an inferior law as long as you make progress in defending life.” Please do not misrepresent the Church’s teaching on this important matter.

            • Viking

              Perhaps you could explain where the Church teaches this. I’ve read Evangelium Vitae cover to cover many times and it doesn’t say you can change the law incrementally in the way you suggest, nor does any other document.

              • Austin Ruse

                EV 73

                A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. It is a fact that while in some parts of the world there continue to be campaigns to introduce laws favouring abortion, often supported by powerful international organizations, in other nations-particularly those which have already experienced the bitter fruits of such permissive legislation-there are growing signs of a rethinking in this matter. In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.

                • Viking

                  You posted this after I had already said (below): “The best you could do is refer to EV 73 which says nothing that even approxiates to the idea that “you may accept an inferior law as long as you make progress in defending life.” Please do not misrepresent the Church’s teaching on this important matter.”

                  It is notable that you omit the sentence immediately before that passage (which is clearly the key for understanding what follows) which reads: “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it.”

                  As various scholarly works have demonstrated there are some “proposals aimed at limiting the harm” that are just. Incremental legislation, such as the illustration of exclusions that you have given previously, is, however, intrinsically unjust and therefore not supportable – as EV73 does in fact teach clearly.

                  • Austin Ruse

                    The law (X Case) already permitted abortion in the case of suicidal thoughts. The purpose of 2002 was the END this loophole. This is why the Catholic Church in Ireland not only approved of the referendum but — citing EV 73 — urged Irishmen to vote for it.

                    • Sean b

                      WRONG AGAIN RUSIE


                    • Augustus

                      Do you think that using all caps will magically make your words more accurate or persuasive? We can read, you know. Time to calm down and grow up. This is a forum for adults.

                    • Sean b


                      I AM QUITE CALM
                      CAPITAL LETTERS ARE EASY TO READ
                      ITS NOT FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT READ
                      BUT IT MIGHT HELP THOSE WHO ARE DEAF

                    • Bono95

                      And how, may I ask, do capital letters help the deaf? You can’t hear a printed word no matter how big the font or capital the letters.

                    • paulpriest

                      This is outrageous – your citation deliberately removes the previous mandatory principle of EV 73.2 – which makes your argument as valid as removing the word NOT from the ten commandments….

                      Let me remind you
                      Immediately before your stated passage

                      In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a
                      law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it,or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it”.98

                  • Austin Ruse

                    Viking, since you seemed to either miss it or dismiss it, here is part of the statement of the Irish bishops specifically citing EV 73 as a reason to vote for the 2002 referendum.

                    • Austin Ruse

                      Here it is:

                      We encourage all our people to vote in the forthcoming referendum

                      12. In dealing with what appears to be a limited or imperfect
                      measure, we believe that, in the context of The Gospel of Life (#73),
                      Catholic voters should feel free in conscience to support this measure,
                      even if it is viewed as less than might have been desired.

                      13. We are of the view that a clear legal prohibition on procured
                      abortion, as set out in this proposal, represents an important step
                      towards ensuring adequate protection for the life of the unborn.
                      However, we are aware that legal measures alone will never suffice, and
                      that ultimately we must always be guided by the moral law, which forbids
                      deliberate abortion and demands that we do everything in our power to
                      cherish and support life at every moment of its existence.

                      14. Abortion, in the moral sense, “is the deliberate and direct
                      killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the
                      initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to
                      (The Gospel of Life #58). Any intentional destruction of human life
                      once begun, whether by experimentation, so-called therapeutic cloning,
                      chemical means, such as the morning-after pill, or by medical intervention is contrary to the moral law.

                    • Sean b



                    • Austin Ruse

                      Abortifacients came to Ireland anyway, Sean…

                    • Sean: This is nonsense. Abortifacients were available in 2002 and have become even more available since then. They are now available over the counter in Irish pharmacies. The status quo in 2002 did not a thing to prevent this.

                      Life was not defined as beginning after implantation in the 2002 referendum. If it was, I would have opposed it. However, I supported it because it IMPLICITLY RECOGNISED LIFE BEFORE IMPLANTATION. The law recognised the right to life of the unborn and IN PARTICULAR gave specific protections for life after implantation (including jail for those who performed abortions). Recognising protection for life after implantation implies the existence of life BEFORE IMPLANTATION because the proposed laws did not define life as beginning at implantation.

                    • Sean B

                      AND YOU CALL YOURSELF PRO LIFE?
                      AND REPEALING THE CRIMINAL
                      LAW OF ABORTION?


                      YOU GUYS ARE A JOKE

                    • Viking

                      Yes, the bishops refer to EV 73, and anyone who voted ‘yes’ in the referendum as a result of their advice, in good conscience, is not blameworthy. Regrettably, it is not the first time that individual bishops or bishops as a conference have misapplied the Church’s teaching in a particular instance. But irrespective of the rightness or wrongness of the bishops’ understanding of EV 73 they said only that Catholics MAY in conscience support the measure; they didn’t say they MUST support it – and good pro-life people who in conscience could not support it were entitled to vote in accordance with their conscience. Dana and John Smeaton and others were not in any way disobedient to the bishops by not supporting the referendum and do not deserve the cheap attacks you have made upon them in your rant/article.
                      Elsewhere I have asked you two or three time to substantiate your remarks abour John Smeaton or to withdraw them. I trust you will show you have some honour by responding properly to that request.

                    • Austin Ruse

                      Straw man. Who ever said Dana and John were disobedient?

                    • lifeknight

                      I have had my run-ins with bishops regarding end of life issues. They are often misled by poor consultants or they are not on the “cutting edge” of science and technology. That is precisely why we must follow a well formed conscience.

            • paulpriest

              No the Church doesn’t – read EV73.3 in the light of the preceding statement of EV73.2 which prohibits co-operation with intrinsically unjust laws [this was confirmed by Pope Benedict by CDF reerence to the passage in ‘Considerations’ on proposed legislative changes concerning homosexuals… we are only permitted to negotiate for that which is just and acceptable in itself [i.e. that which doesn’t inherently provide exceptions and compromises – buying life with life a la Caiaphas] – An Incrementalist strategy of compromise is to cite the Pope Emeritus ‘neither acceptable nor just’.

          • lifeknight – there was NO incrementalism involved. There were no babies being left behind. The law simply added protection to post-implantation life and was silent on pre-implantation life except that it implicitly recognised the existence of a right to life of the unborn outside the womb. Oh, and it also imposed penalties of up to 12 years in prison for procuring or performing an illegal abortion. How, precisely, is that incrementalism?

        • Austin Ruse

          “Smeaton does not know what he’s talking about and after all he isn’t even Irish” is admittedly my characterization of how Irish pro-life response des to recent Smeaton attacks on them. Smeaton is the instigator.

          • Austin Ruse

            Sorry… “of how Irish pro-life leaders responded to recent Smeaton attacks on them.”

            • Viking

              Okay, so what you said is supposed to reflect what some Irish pro-lifers might be thinking. But if Smeaton should butt out of this on account of not being Irish, then so should you. I trust you will also substantiate or withdraw your remarks about Rocky (aka. ‘the nasty mean guy’) Smeaton beating up on “much loved” (aka “sweet lil old lady”) Bowman.

              • Viking

                Mr Ruse, I note you have still not substantiated your remarks or withdrawn them

                • Austin Ruse


                  I was also around then and subsequently became friends with Mrs. Bowman, who was a great lady.

                  • Viking

                    You wrote, “Smeaton earned a reputation as a bare-knuckler in his battles with the elderly and much loved Bowman.” This is not substantiated by the newspaper report to which you refer. If someone is writing an article on a serious topic the readers deserve better than an approximation to the truth that is so loose it is infact a serious lie and an unjustified slur on somebody’s character and good name.

                    Your article/rant is one of the shabbiest pieces I have read by someone who presents himself as a leader in the pro-life movement.

                    • Austin Ruse

                      Strong words from an anonymous poster who also cannot read very well…

                    • Viking

                      Cannot read what well? I read the article and it noted the dispute between Smeaton and Bowman. It does not say – as you said – that “Smeaton earned a reputation as a bare-knuckler in his battles with the elderly and much loved Bowman.” Does my dispute with what you have written in this riddiculous and offensive article mean that I have earned a reputation as a bare-knuckler too?
                      Perhaps you could name 3 people who share your view that Smeaton has earned the reputation you claim? Surely if he has earned this reputation you can name at least three people who will back you up on this?

      • ifyouonlyknew

        What about you Ruse
        Austin Ruse and Crisis Magazine signed up to a NO VOTE IN 2002

        You promoted a No Vote
        You Gathered signatures for a NO VOTE in 2002

        DId you make a mistake?

        Your actions speak loud

  • Marie Smith

    Sorry but I disagree with your account of the 2002 referendum in Ireland. For starters, it would have changed protection of life from conception to implantation in the womb and opened the doors of Ireland to ESC research, the morning after pill, IUDs, and more. Dana, John Smeaton and SPUC were right to oppose this change and the Irish people agreed. Their commitment to pro-life protections in Ireland, and throughout Europe, deserve our thanks, not attacks or words of disparagement. They are subjected to enough negativity from pro-abortion activists.

    • Austin Ruse

      Marie, You say the Irish people agreed with Scallon and Smeaton. Tis true, the referendum lost by 11,000 votes, but the Irish people who agreed were overwhelmingly pro-abortion. A post election poll showed that the total number of pro-lifer who voted with Scallon and Smeaton were no more than 5% but this 5% (30,000) was enough to give the pro-aborts their victory.

      What’s more, the morning after pill and embryo destructive reseach all came to Ireland even though the referendum died.

      The current debate to bring abortion to Ireland would not now be happening if the 2002 referendum has passed.

    • Marie: The morning after pill was already available in 2002. The legal regime at the time did nothing to protect against it. The amendment did not remove protection pre-implantation, it simply added extra protection post-implantation. It recognised the right to life of the unborn, and said that IN PARTICULAR post-implantation life was subject to extra protection. If I say that I admired Pope Benedict, and IN PARTICULAR his humility, it clearly does not mean that I ONLY liked his humility and nothing else. The loss of this referendum was a shameful waste, and it was shameful to see a small number of pro-lifers celebrating their “victory” alongside people who want abortion available without restriction.

      • Fr. Chris Mann


        Please refer to the following text as it is what was actually voted on on 6 Mar 2002. It takes some serious mental gymnastics and/or naiveté to suggest that a new legal definition of abortion would not further jeopardize pre-implantation embryos and at the same time legally legitimize other morally reprehensible abortifacient practices. NOTE: There is no mention of particular protection.

        “The following question will be on the ballot paper

        Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution as set out in the undermentioned Bill?

        Twenty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy) Bill.

        The referendum proposes to add two new sub-sections to Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution. It acknowledges the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn.

        A new Article 40.3.4 states: “In particular, the life of the unborn in the womb shall be protected in accordance with the provisions of the Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Act, 2002.”

        A new Article 40.3.5 proposes that this Act cannot be changed unless it is approved by the people in a new referendum.

        The main provisions of the Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Bill are:

        The threat of suicide, based on the X case, will be removed as a ground for abortion;

        Abortion will be defined as the intentional destruction by any means of unborn human life after implantation in the womb. (This definition presumes that the IUD and the morning-after pill will have legal protection);

        A procedure carried out by a medical practitioner at an approved place – to be laid down by the Minister by regulation after the referendum – to prevent a real and substantial risk of the loss of a woman’s life, other than by self-destruction, will not be regarded as an abortion;

        Anyone aiding or procuring an abortion will be liable for up to 12 years’ imprisonment.

        The right to information and freedom to travel for an abortion are restated in the Bill.”

        • I think it is important to give the full context here. I the referendum was passed, the Constitution would have read as follows:

          “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.
          In particular, the life of the unborn in the womb shall be protected in
          accordance with the provisions of the Protection of Human Life in
          Pregnancy Act, 2002.”

          The phrase “In particular” clearly implies that there is a form of unborn life outside of the womb.

          Remember – the existing constitutional “protection” (the first paragraph above) was already part of irish law. It had been interpreted as allowing for abortion without time limits in cases of threatened suicide. It also has afforded no protection for unimplanted embryos given the availability of the MAP at the time and the subsequent increase in its use over the last 11 years,

          I also see no basis for saying that it would legitimise the MAP, which, I agree, is morally reprehensible.

          • Fr. Chris Mann

            Whilst I can see where you are coming from, Columba, I in turn invite you to consider the following points.

            Lawyers, judges and activists all love to argue words. Bill Clinton, when asked if he had sex with Monica Lewinski, famously answered that “all depends on what ‘is’ means.” Apparently, everyone but the president of the United States at the time knows what ‘is’ means.

            You highlight the term “in particular” as implying “that there is a form of unborn life outside the womb.” It could be argued that “in particular” simply is a phrase to emphasize that embryos are protected post-implantation. As benign as that may seem, it is in my opinion problematic for at least two reasons.

            First, to what end is it necessary to emphasize that the unborn are protected after implantation? I would suggest that it is in fact meant to introduce distinct categories of being unborn–pre-implantation and post-implantation. Such emphasis on the later could easily have been manipulated to exclude from constitutional protection pre-implantation embryos on the grounds that the 1861 legislation has been superceded by the the 2002 referendum. Note that you have excluded from the context you have provided the key fact that the 2002 referendum REDEFINES abortion.

            Second, one must acknowledge that another use of the word “particular” is in reference to its opposite term “general.” Similar to my last point, it could be argued–and most likely would have been–that constitutional protection is for post-implanted embryos in particular to the exclusion of pre-implanted embryos again on the basis that the 1861 legislation is abrogated by the constitution.

            Third, why distinguish between pre and post implantation in the first place? It is evident that the term “in particular” is problematic. Whether the phrase is used to add emphasis or used isolate, it can be manipulated to the same end–legitimizing abortifacient practices on pre-implanted embryos on the grounds that such embryos don’t enjoy the same constitutional protections and/or quite simply because under the new definition such practices are not abortion at all. The fact of the matter is that all human persons are inviolable from conception, understood as fertilization vs. implantation as further redefined by the pro abortion lobby, so all embryos enjoy equal protection and none particular protection. No distinctions. No exceptions.

            By the way, you never addressed my earlier question as to why an amendment that was not open to moral ambiguity would have to include a clause for conscientious objection.

            The bottom line is that the 2002 was devious and damaging to the pro life cause in Ireland and seemingly still is–regardless of whether or not it passed. For if, as Austin suggests, it was an “impure” measure that improved the status quo, the fact remains that if it had passed pro lifers would still have been challenged to work together. But they are a divided. Blaming each other is fruitless if not childish at this point. Fighting yesterday’s battles will only distract from the task at hand. Winning now!

  • crakpot

    The Commandment reads, “Thou shalt not murder.”
    No exceptions for how young the victim is or where he currently lives.
    No exceptions for a victim whose father is a rapist.
    No exceptions for murder-suicides.

    The idea that incrementalism, compromises on morality, will somehow convert the other side or swell our own ranks has no basis in history. We made exceptions for slavery based on where the victim lived – did that avert war?

    • Bono95

      What Mr. Ruse means here is that we must break down the wall of abortion in a step-by-step manner, and that means unfortunately that there will still be some innocent deaths involved. It’s a case of choosing the lesser of 2 evils, either we let the wanton slaughter continue indefinitely until or if we get it completely outlawed, or we severely limit and slow down the death rate and work from there to steadily bring it to a halt.
      Abortion will not be outlawed all at once, in part because it was not legalized all at once. It took more than half the 20th century to get it legalized for limited circumstances in America. That point was led up to by contraception and has swelled from there by abortion on demand. The fact that abortion is still not yet legal in Ireland proves that, but to keep it from moving forward slowly and steadily, we must begin to move it backward slowly and steadily.

      • givelifeachance2

        The longer we wait and more we accept incrementalist measures with abortion, the more comfortable the “prolife” populace gets with abortion (as with slavery). Abortion is not like a runaway train with valuable cargo, to be slowed down gradually. It is like concentration camps – or the institution of slavery – to be firmly abolished without delay or tolerance. Evangelium Vitae says that the lawmaker must be unequivocally against abortion – let his singleminded support of a human life amendment, (as in, he will only introduce such a bill and not an incrementalist bill, though he may vote for the latter) be proof of that.

        • Bono95

          Well, what do you do if you DON’T have an unequivocally anti-abortion lawmaker? You work with what you have and make the best of it.
          Yes, it would be better to totally stop all abortions ASAP, but as that unfortunately does not look realistic right now, we’re going to have to settle for slowing the number of deaths down until total halt is possible.

    • Purists aren’t really purists

      What do you mean it has no basis in history? Have you not been around for the past 40 years? Parental consent, clinic regulations, partial birth abortion, unborn pain capable act! You don’t think we grew our support against a lot of abortions when we passed these laws and….oh yeah…saved lives? Incrementalism is not compromise. It is prudence. If we had the support to overturn all abortions we’d do it. Many states, like Mississippi, have that support, so they are able to pass incremental legislation that has effectively ended all abortions in Mississippi. Waiting around for Roe V. Wade to be overturned while doing nothing but sitting on your high chair and calling everyone else a compromising pro-abort is about as useless and counter effective as you can be.

      • Alex

        Good stuff. On a related note, Romney won the independents but ended up losing the purists, two million of them. Now we have four more of Obama.

        • crakpot

          Romney wasn’t running for pope. I voted for him too.

  • Sean B

    Methinks you protest too much Ruse
    It’s got the might Q and Partners fingerprints all over it

    We watch out for career pro lifers Who advocate a little abortion to justify the deals they do to massage their egos

    • Austin Ruse

      What is the world is “the might Q and Partners”? Do tell!

  • Oswaldo

    Congratulations for your lucidity, Austin. God bless you more and more!

  • Jay

    What a victory it must be for Satan to see the pro-life movement dividing from within. Indeed it is tempting to settle for an evil law, even if it remotely sounds like it might makes sense to some people. Isn’t this what Satan is good at…trickery? Good move Satan. Bravo. You have fooled a lot of good people.

    The point is, why and how can anybody strike a “bargain” in regards killing children? We aren’t talking about bargaining goods, or food, or clothes. We are talking about lives…the lives of children! Think about how inhumane, disgusting, repulsive, and just plain outright crazy this is! We are talking about murdering children…and people want to kill just some of the babies some of the time….as if that might make sense on some other planet! Wow! Take the goggles off Austin!

    The point is, there should be no exceptions whatsoever, because killing is wrong 100% of the time. Period. End of story folks!

    • Yes, I agree. All exceptions which allow abortion are wrong. But that wasn’t the case in 2002. It did not allow for exceptions.

    • musicacre

      We now have abortion on-demand in Canada, (with no guidelines or laws) because of pro-lifers not working for incremental protection. I’ve been with the movement since 1979 and I can tell you it is the way pro-choicers got their victory! Killing is 100% wrong, but now it is 100% legal in Canada, up to nine months and day of birth.

  • Jay

    On another related note: how can you trust the other party you are bargaining with….especially when they want to bargain babies!? Think about it. Would you trust any legislation, or anyone involved with making this type of legislation, when it is over bargaining the lives of babies? Don’t fall for Satan’s trickery. He is very smart, but God’s black and white logic is much clearer to follow. Just take a step back and think about this….bargaining with lives….

  • givelifeachance2

    James (3/5) Madison should have listened to the purists who told him to secure the inalienable right to liberty in the constitution. Four score incrementalist years later, during which continual scoffing at the “purist” abolitionists, we finally got rid of slavery through the Civil War bloodbath, and at the same time got set on the statist trajectory that we are living under now with death panels as but one example. Nice going, incrementalists. Next time, secure those damn rights in the Constitution before floating these weak-kneed accommodationist abortion permission slip laws.

  • Jay

    Hey Austin….I thought about this more and figured you out: you are a pro-abort wiring in a Catholic website.

    Whether you are aware of this or not, you should not be writing for a CATHOLIC website. What are your references, especially with respect to the Catholic Church supporting a referendum that would permit a “suicidal” “mother” to abort her child? Who is your boss?

    To all the confused readers here, let me break this down so this sly fox does not fool you.

    Let me set the stage please: ABORTION WAS ILLEGAL IN IRELAND AS OF 2002. What AUSTIN is saying is that in 2002, the Catholic Church actually supported a referendum that would allow a mother to abort her child if she were deemed “suicidal.” What!?? References please!?!?

    Dana Scallon and Smeaton were the driving force to stop this referendum in 2002 from passing (and rightfully so). For Ireland to go from NO ABORTION, to no abortion but with exceptions would be a very wrong step in the very wrong direction. Thank God people like Dana and Smeaton were there to take the lead (or should I call them “purists” Mr. Ruse?). How about pro-life warriors, or pro-life heroes who helped save countless lives over the 11 years that elapsed between 2002 and today?

    Ok, so fast-forward in time to this woman that could have been saved had abortion been legal in Ireland. Now pro-abortion activists want to legalize abortion (and probably all forms of it) in Ireland.

    What this man (Austin Ruse) is saying is that had Scallon, Smeaton, and the pro-life Irish folk caved way back in 2002 and allowed the referendum to pass that would allow abortions with exceptions, then Ireland would not be faced with the predicament it is in today.

    So, Mr. Ruse is actually advocating abortion (even though he says he isn’t). There are either two possibilities, Mr. Ruse : 1) you are an evil pro abortion activist who has infiltrated a Catholic newspaper, or 2) you are just plain misled and confused, and are misleading the rest of us. Either way it is not good.

    My questions to you are: where are your references with regards to the Catholic Church supporting this 2002 referendum that would allow abortion with exceptions in Ireland? You write for a Catholic newspaper….surely you would have these references. Why would you attempt to smear the names of Dana Scallon and John Smeaton? What made you think that this was a professional thing to do as a writer for a Catholic magazine?

    If you aren’t an evil pro abort trying to infiltrate the Catholic Church, I demand an apology be made to Dana Scallon and John Smeaton, as well as to all the now misinformed (or just plain disgusted) readers at this site.

    • Austin Ruse

      I will skip over the rather florid and unfortunate name calling and get to the central fact. Abortion was illegal in Ireland prior to 2002 but not firmly so, the Constitutional provision was vague and ambiguous. Moreover, because of the X Case there existed an allowance for “suicidal” mothers to get an abortion. The 2002 referendum sought to close that loophole. Sadly, it was defeated by pro-abortion voters and small coterie of misguided pro-lifers.

    • Jay: Here is the statement of the Irish Bishops. They said that the referendum was “An opportunity not to be lost”: http://www.catholicbishops.ie/2002/03/08/an-opportunity-not-to-be-lost-abortion-referendum-2002/

      For the record, your understanding of the referendum is completely wrong. The referendum REMOVED the suicide grounds for abortion. If it did not, ALL prolifers would have opposed it.

    • Abusive, ad hominem attack post. Please remove it.

      • Crisiseditor

        It is clear that Jay is guilty of the very offenses he accuses Mr. Ruse of committing in his use of ad hominem attacks. Furthermore, Jay’s demand for evidence to substantiate Mr. Ruse’s claims has been answered. This evidence reveals the weakness, if not the outright falsehood, of Jay’s interpretation of events. He indicts himself. There is no need to remove. To do so would simply protect him from his own errors and excesses.

  • Purists aren’t really purists

    I have one question for those purists out there. Was Pius XII evil for only sheltering some of the Jews in monasteries and not all of the Jews in monasteries? Was Harriet Tubman evil because she only helped some of the slaves escape to the North rather than all of the slaves? You people are so incapable of seeing that incrementalism, especially in America, has nothing to do with saying save these but not those. Rather it is a matter of saving save these! because we have the support to save these! For instance, there is legislation currently going around to make abortion after 20 weeks illegal because the child can feel pain. That is not a compromise. That is an effort to help a group of victims because we currently CAN help those victims. Unify people! You battle cry is far worse. Kill all the children or none of them!

    • lifeknight

      We are at an impasse. I cannot in good conscience “fight” for incrementalism that serves to offer up innocent babies. The fight, as you have stated, is “all or nothing” and to pretend to liken the abortion exceptions legislation to the honorable actions of a Pope is simply not the same supposition.

      • Purists aren’t really purists

        In what way are they not the same? Would you oppose legislation that saves children after 20 weeks? Because those children can be saved. We have the ability to save them in most states. Would you really oppose that kind of legislation because it doesn’t end all abortions? It most certainly doesn’t legalize them! It’s not as if I want abortions before twenty weeks.

        • I have to ask, when a law such as the pain capable act is proposed and passes, what really does it say? Does it say that the baby at twenty weeks is a person who feels pain and thus deserves the right to live? Do we propose that the baby at four months feels no pain when his limbs are torn off and his skull is crushed? Is the baby at three or two or one month a lesser person? When such a law is met by the judiciary, does the judiciary uphold the law, or does it defer to recommendations that the baby simply be anesthetized prior to being murdered and dismembered? Is the law free of all exceptions, or does it opt to keep exceptions in tact in order for it to be “passed”? In the quest for incremental victories, do we lose in ourselves the very simple reason for fighting the increasing attacks on human life? I guess what bothers me most about the many incremental “laws” is that at the end of the day it seems that we have been promoting lies and have lost faith that the truth both convicts and is convincing. Sure, we chased late-term abortions out of our state, maybe? But a mother convinced that her child must die can still leave the state and have it done elsewhere. God saves, and if I have in some way been instrumental to the salvation of another, all Glory be to God! I am the poorest tool always in need of His mercy! Perhaps the great difference today in regards to the wars against slavery and segregation, is that we have become perfectly comfortable with practical atheism and arguing with an atheist mindset. We actually desire this in our leadership and don’t mind it in our national parties. There is no red and blue – all gray, so comfortable, so nice. By all means avoid the white, it so signifies surrender. Either we surrender to God, or we surrender to everything else. Why, in the first place, is abortion wrong?

      • Purists aren’t really purists

        Your problem is that you can’t see the difference between ending some abortions and “offering up innocent babies.” That is really uncharitable and a horrible thing to accuse most pro-lifers of. This is not a contest of “who is more pro-life.” Actually lives can be saved if we pass lesser legislation now, WHILE CONTINUING to work towards ending all abortions.

        • lifeknight

          Personal assaults do not substantiate your opinion. You cannot make something inherently evil become something good—I believe it is called a non-sequitor.

      • Bono95

        Incrementalism is not as desirable is “all”, but it sure beats “nothing”. I would much rather save a small number of babies than let them all die because I couldn’t save all of them.

        • lifeknight

          Again, I appreciate your sentiments, but exceptions to abortion are simply not the way to stop the killing of fellow human beings. I cannot in good conscience entertain the idea of ripping arms and legs off and crushing the skulls of ANY babies. If we are not fighting for all, then the legislation is not worth the paper upon which it is written.

          • Bono95

            We are, or should be, fighting a war to save the lives of all babies. But depending on the circumstances of the particular battle we find ourselves in at the moment, we may have to be content with less than a whole. As many babies as is possible must be saved in every battle, but sometimes trying for too much too soon instead of concentrating on the babies who we can save guaranteed or have reasonably good odds of saving can be counter-productive. If we stretch ourselves too thin going out of our way to save babies who are beyond successful rescue, we may further endanger or indirectly harm both them and the babies we have a better chance of saving.

            • lifeknight

              We must “agree to disagree” and leave it at that. Life is an all or nothing proposition.

  • Austin Ruse

    Evangelium Vitae 73.

    A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. It is a fact that while in some parts of the world there continue to be campaigns to introduce laws favouring abortion, often supported by powerful international organizations, in other nations-particularly those which have already experienced the bitter fruits of such permissive legislation-there are growing signs of a rethinking in this matter. In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.

    • Sean B

      For all the Austins out there
      The 1861 Act offences against the person sections 58 and 59 CONTINUES TO BE A BAN ON ABORTION IN ALL OF IRELAND NORTH AND SOUTH


      The 2002 referendum was. Not the replacing by a so called lesser evil



      Austin you really don’t know what you are talking about especially as one of the groups you recommend for clarity VOTED NO IN THE 2002 REFERENDUM (Life Institute / Youth Defence)

      • Austin Ruse

        Sean, did the 1861 law protect England from getting abortion on demand? No, plainly no.

        • Sean B


          The 1861 Act CONTINUES TO BE THE LAW




          • Austin Ruse

            You hang your hat on the 1861 law but the 1861 did not protect England in 1967, now did it?

            Try to stop yelling, too….

            Off to Mass….

            • Sean b



              YOU HANG YOURSELF





              • Austin Ruse

                Did the 1861 law protect England?

                • Sean b





                  • Austin Ruse

                    Did the 1861 law protect England?

                  • Bono95

                    Hey, Mr. B, what assurance do Mr. Ruse, myself, and everyone else reading this article have that YOU aren’t just parroting things told to you by others? How do we know you’re an authority here? Are you in the Fine Gael party? Did you vote for them? Have you spoken personally with Mrs. Scallon, Mr. Smeaton, or any Fine Gael members or voters? Are you an Irish citizen? What’s the deal here?

                    • Sean b

                      The deal here is the Truth
                      Not a money making business that preys on a pretence And accommodates making money

          • Again, I will repeat – the 2002 referendum did not define life as beginning after implantation. Please show me the wording of the law that did so.

            In fact, if the referendum was passed it would have allowed prolifers to argue that the constitution implicitly recognised the existence of life BEFORE implantation.

            The Irish State paid for the morning after pill 26,875 times in 2010 for poor patients. Many multiples of this number would have obtained the pill privately and at their own expense. It became available in 2001 before the referendum was held and it is now available in drug stores without prescription. And all of this despite the 1861 Act and despite the defeat of the 2002 referendum.

      • Bono95

        Wait, abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland too? I thought it was available on demand anywhere in the UK.

        • Sean b

          Ireland North and South continues to ban abortion by the 1861 Offences Against The Person Act Sections 58 & 59

          It is the Law

          The problem is that the Eu and UN are targeting Ireland

          Politicians in the North of Ireland defend the criminal justice of a ban on abortion
          Politicians in the South are spineless and have agreed that abortion is, as the EU wants, a health / medical issue.

  • As someone writing in Ireland, may I say thank you for this article.

    There was a lot of misinformation about the 2002 amendment. The reality was that the Supreme Court in 1992 had decided that abortion could be performed without time limits and under very liberal grounds, including the threat of suicide. We are now facing legislation to give effect to that judgement precisely because of the actions of a small group of pro-lifers in Ireland and overseas.

    The 2002 amendment would not have opened the door to abortion. It would not have undermined the protection of unborn life pre-implantation. The morning after pill was already widely available in Ireland pre-2002. The proposed law simply added EXTRA protection to unborn life after implantation without taking away protection pre-implantation. The law, in effect, would have recognised the right to life of the unborn, and in particular unborn life after implantation would have been subject to greater protection than existed at that time. By recognising the possibility of extra protection for post-implantation life, the law would have implicitly recognised the existence of pre-implantation life.

    It was an opportunity not to be missed, and unfortunately it was squandered.

    • Austin Ruse

      Thanks, Columba,for your contribution to this discussion…

  • Alex

    Austin—don’t get discouraged. Most internet commentary is more emotional response than useful insight.

  • Fr. Chris Mann


    C-Fam typically does great work for which I must commend you. Unfortunately, I strongly believe–after having lived in Ireland for four years as a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal and having published numerous pro life articles in the “Catholic Voice”–that you have gravely missed the mark concerning abortion legislation in Ireland and Catholic moral teaching as summed up in EV-73. I further believe that abortion advocates deliberately act to divide the pro life movement in Ireland, which as never fully recovered. Praise God that abortion is still illegal in Ireland (both North and the Republic). Please God that will remain the case forever.

    The key factor is that abortion is already illegal in Ireland. Legislation allowing an exception for those who are suicidal would not have improved the situation, which is very different from ours in the USA, but would have done just the opposite. As we used to say in the U.S. Marines: “If it isn’t broke; don’t fix it.”

    The question remains: Can a Catholic Support a Law That Allows Some Abortions?

    Those who are seriously interested in understanding the Catholic position should refer to an October 2002 interview with Msgr. Ángel Rodríguez Luño, Professor of Moral Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (a.k.a. Santa Croce). One should note that Santa Croce is run by Opus Dei and the interview was published on Zenit.org, that is to say, Msgr. Luño’s position is clear and reliable.

    See the following link for the interview: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/can-a-catholic-support-a-law-that-allows-some-abortions

    Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus!

    • Austin Ruse

      Hi Father, many thanks for your note and for your kind words.

      I find nothing to disagree with the the Zenit interview with the Opus Dei priest.

      The reason pro-lifers overwhelmingly supported the 2002 referendum is that the Constitutional provision was weak and ambiguous and the 1861 law could be overturned by simple legislation. I believe the 1861 is operative in England yet England has abortion on demand.

      There was also the X Case that allowed for abortion under suicidal conditions.

      For these reasons, pro-lifers including the Church wanted to make the laws stronger by a Constitutional measure.

      The Irish Bishops determined that EV 73 applied in this situation and even invoked it as a reason for Irish Catholics to support the measure.

      Yours sincerely,


      PS C-FAM has never taken a position on the 2002 referendum or on the present debate. We trust the mainstream pro-life groups to do the right thing.

      • Sean B

        Are the lights on with you Austin
        Is there anyone at home

        YOU SAY YOU / CFAM HAVE NEVER TAKEN A POSITION ON THE 2002 IRISH REFERENDUM YET YOU “BLAME ” ( in the words of your friends at Iona Insitiute – David Quinn- Family and life’ David manley and Peter Scully AKA Padair O
        Scollagh ; Prol Life Campaign John O
        Reilly amd Caroline Simmons together with Senator ronan Mullins ) DANA , YOUTH DEFENCE, LIFE INSTITUTE AND SPUC, HLI, Christian Democrats, Etc

        In fact had real pro life advocates not defeated the malicious worded referendum it would have opened the door to destructive embryo research and full scale abortion


        • Austin Ruse

          Please go back and read what I have written. C-FAM has taken no position on the 2002 referendum. We follow the lead of responsible pro-life leaders in Ireland. The column above is written in my personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the positions of the organization that I lead.

      • Viking

        You clearly have no idea of the legal situation in Ireland pre-2002, the relevance of the1861 law to Ireland or “England” (as you so quaintly but inaccurately refer to the United Kingdom which consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), have little knowledge (let alone understanding) of what the Church taught in EV 73 (as well as its relevance to the 2002 referendum or now) and yet you consider yourself qualified to comment on what is happening in Ireland, and to quite maliciously slag off individuals with whom you ignorantly disagree.

        Crisis magazine is definitely in a crisis if it continues to publish trash like this article/rant.

    • givelifeachance2

      With reference to the Zenit article and its three classes of lawmakers (see below). we see the fallacy in incrementalism if we realize that if an incrementalist bill (X) is passed, class B will never vote for the eventual “pure” bill Y, because they have been sated by Bill X. Passing an incrementalist bill is actually making getting to the ideal Bill Y harder. The class C legislators should be doing everything they can to PERSUADE class B to come over to their side, based on the moral high ground. Which is harder to do if the Class C already sold out their moral principles for Bill X – they have rendered themselves not credible. So the stance that supports Evangelium Vitae best is for the C legislators NEVER to put forward X bills but only Y bills (though they might VOTE for X bills).

      The Lincoln fiction movie about horse-trading the thirteenth amendment (which was screenwrit by filthy-mouth “Angels in America” Tony Kushner by the way go figure out the backstory on that one) notwithstanding, good laws are made by principled, persuasive men, not by horsetrading.
      Group A, with 40 members, accepts the current law and does not want to change it for any reason at all.

      Group B, with 30 members, thinks that abortion should be legal in some cases, but regards the current law as too permissive and in need of modification; however, B is not willing to approve a law that prohibits any type of abortion.

      Group C, with 30 members, is opposed to any type of abortion. If in such a situation, a few parliamentarians of group C, who are Catholics, present a motion to the assembly that abrogates all the articles of the law in force to date that those of group B are willing to eliminate, in such a way that if it is approved abortion in many cases will be illegal, which up until now were legal, although it will continue to be legal in very restricted cases, the parliamentarians of group C — who are Catholics — have before them three possible ways to act: to vote against the motion, to abstain, or to vote in favor.

    • Dear Fr: I cannot see what abortions he 2002 law would have allowed for. The reality is that it closed up loopholes that are about to be blown apart.

      I think you may also be laboring under some misconceptions. The proposal would NOT have allowed for exceptions for suicidal ideation – it specifically stated that threatened self-destruction was not a ground for abortion.

  • AcceptingReality

    I smell a rat, Austin. I think you’re commentary on Ireland’s pro-life battle is little more than a ruse designed to promote the centrist viewpoint that abortion should to be legal in the cases of rape and incest. That assertion is neither logical or consistent with a “pro-life” disposition. It ignores a couple of facts. First, the majority of women who conceive in rape opt to carry the baby to term. Second, their are thousands of productive citizens who were conceived in rape. Furthermore it could be argued that such an idea is meant to protect the interests of men with ill intent. The most sensible argument to be made is that it is never the baby’s fault when he/she is conceived in rape. Therefore they deserve to be protected from abortion. The idea that those who oppose life would acquiesce to the growing culture of life as long as we allow them to continue killing babies conceived in rape is absurd to say the least.

  • Thanks for taking so much time to answer all these commenters, Mr. Ruse.

  • Well done Mr. Ruse for highlighting this. We in Ireland have the target of the international pro-abortion lobby for many years and the situation here has not been helped by Mr. Smeaton, who having not succeeded one iota in changing the abortion culture in Britain, finds it necessary to lecture us in Ireland on what we are doing wrong.

  • givelifeachance2

    To cite just one example. We have Obamacare, death panels and all, because of the incrementalists and their “Stupak” amendment, which allowed for rape and incest exceptions, but gave a fig leaf permission to congressmen to vote for Obamacare. Were it not for that amendment (and I don’t mean the Stupak sellout in March, I mean the original vote in November, which the incrementalists pumped), we would very likely not have this odious, deathdealing law and the monster State it created.

  • Fr. Chris Mann

    Austin & Columba,

    Thanks for each of your responses to my earlier comment.

    Yes, the 2002 referendum would have eliminated the suicide exception that resulted from the failed 12th amendment. My understanding of that was not clear in my first statement. Nevertheless, I cannot grasp how the referendum would’ve been an improvement–and I’m no purist as defined in Austin’s article. I am also one who doesn’t take publicly disagreeing with the Episcopal Conference lightly.

    As I recall, the Offenses Against Persons Act (1861) is the legal basis for the illegality of abortion in Ireland. The 1983 amendment to the Irish Constitution enshrined the legal protection in the Constitution. The X Case led the the 12th, 13th and 14th amendments. The 12th, not having passed, is why suicidal threats may be considered grounds for an abortion. The 13th means that the State cannot prevent an Irish citizen from traveling outside of Ireland to procure an abortion, and the 14th allows a person to obtain information about abortions outside of Ireland. I seem to further recall, however, that crisis pregnancy agencies are not legally permitted to provide such information or to give such referrals.

    I further understand that whilst the 2002 referendum would have ended the use of suicide to justify abortions, the new definition of abortion as being applicable only post-implantation was hugely problematic visa vie the morning after pill (not to mention embryo destruction as in the case of IVF). Another problem is that the final form of the legislation wasn’t even complete yet and would take the form of an appendix to the Constitution with quasi-constitutional protection. (We all know how that approach is working out with Obama Care.) An additional issue is that the 2002 referendum did not indisputably and explicitly prohibit direct abortion “to save the life of the mother.” It simply refers to necessary medical procedures, which might in the “reasonable opinion” of medical professionals be required to save the life of the mother. It was gravely ambiguous in its terminology, and the lack of clarity where it could have easily been provided is an unforgivable omission. But the biggest give away of the fatal flaws enshrined in the referendum is the fact that it allowed for conscientious objection if persons didn’t want to cooperate in so called legitimate medical procedures. Any legislation that is in accord with Catholic moral teachings does not need to provide an out for those who object on moral grounds–or am I just crazy??? The cost of winning the suicide exception battle would be akin to taking a pistol from the pro aborts and handing them a nuclear bomb in its place–in my humble opinion.

    Admittedly, stronger and more clearly defined constitutional protection is desirable. The 2002 referendum just wasn’t it. The endless onslaught of pro abortion activists would’ve been more damaging had it passed. Rep. Chris Smith and his wife Marie, who consult with Priests for Life, agree with my analysis.

    God bless!

  • If your life was up against the death sentence you’d want a “purist” on your side! Christ was a purist and no one else’s opinion counts after His.

    • Emil Booyink

      Christ could not save Judas even tho he wanted too

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  • Thomas Storck

    I think we must make distinctions between different ways of being “purist.” To save some innocent lives even if one cannot save all of them is surely a good thing – unless, in doing so one abandons the principle that is at stake, namely, that no one may directly take the life of an innocent person. If one does that, the remedy may in the end be worse than the disease, because after that it becomes a question of expediency or a utilitarian calculus as to which lives are worth saving and which not. I am making no comment on the Irish referendum, about which I know very little, simply about the general principle at stake, and trying to clear up what may be a confusion for some.

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