On Sunday, November 18, more than 1,500 attended the annual Stand Up For Life Dinner sponsored by the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia. The guest speaker was Eoghan de Faoite, M.D. (pronounced “Owen de Fweeteh”), a 28-year-old physician and influential Irish pro-life leader. Since 2002 he has been the chairman of Youth Defence, which galvanizes and motivates the youth of Ireland to speak out against abortion.
In his speech, Dr. de Faoite noted that Ireland is the only country in the Western world that has not legalized abortion, despite persistent lobbying by a small but vocal pro-abortion minority. Among other current events he addressed the tragic deaths of 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar, who died of septicaemia, a blood infection, and of her 17-week-old preborn child. Even before the release of complete, official medical reports, pro-abortion forces seized on this incident, claiming that the woman died because Irish doctors “refused to perform an abortion to save the life of the mother”.
Dr. de Faoite had already left Ireland on a speaking tour when the story broke, so he admitted that he was unable to comment on the specifics of that particular case. He has led nationwide pro-life information tours and directed anti-abortion political lobbying campaigns, however, and so he is thoroughly informed about maternal care policies in Ireland.
He explained that impartial international studies show that for many years Ireland has had the lowest maternal mortality rate of any country in the world. When a pregnant woman in Ireland develops a life-threatening disease or condition, terminating the pregnancy is not an option; physicians treat and try to save both mother and child. Taken together, these two facts are impressive evidence that elective abortion is neither necessary nor helpful in improving maternal care. Dr. de Faoite cited statistics from the same international study showing that the maternal mortality rate in neighboring Britain is five times higher than in Ireland.
Pro-aborts try to argue that “the Irish women who need life-saving abortions go to Britain; that’s why their maternal mortality rate is so low”. Dr. de Faoite investigated this claim scientifically. Under the British version of the Freedom of Information Act, he examined British abortion records for the most recent twenty years and noted those cases in which the patient gave an address in Ireland. Each file notes the indications (reasons) for the abortion. There are six categories, A through F, and category D is “to save the life of the mother”. The speaker asked the audience to guess how many of the abortions performed on Irish women in those twenty years were “class-D abortions”. The answer: Zero. There is absolutely no basis in fact for the argument that Irish woman who went abroad for “necessary life-saving abortions” helped to lower the maternal mortality rate in Ireland.
Dr. Faoite’s review of these simple facts highlights the illogic and sensationalism of those who have tried to score political points following the death of Mrs. Halappanavar. Irish standards for maternal care are not inherently unjust to women. There is no “need” to legalize abortion in Ireland. On the contrary, the Irish example of the world’s best maternal care—in the absence of legal abortion—should be a beacon to the benighted world of pro-abortion ideologues.