Today, hundreds of thousands of undecided voters in Ireland will make a decision that will shape our country’s future.
If they vote Yes, the right to life will be removed from our Constitution, and all constitutional protection for unborn children will be abolished. Abortion will become legal for any reason whatsoever up to 12 weeks, with a liberal UK-style regime also being put in place up until viability.
If they vote No, on the other hand, it will force the Government to put in place a proper strategy to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and to support all women and families who are faced with crisis pregnancies.
It’s as clear a decision as we have ever been asked to make, and more important than any which we have made before.
Should Ireland choose to allow abortion-on-demand to be introduced here, the results will be easy to predict. The experience of our closest neighbours in the United Kingdom shows us exactly what happens when the right to life of the unborn is erased.
The introduction of abortion in Britain under the 1967 Abortion Act led to a rapid increase in the number of women making this sad and tragic choice. The numbers jumped from 20,000 in the first year after the act was passed to over 100,000 per annum just four years later.
The numbers did not stop rising, and there are 200,000 abortions taking place in Britain each year, with one abortion being recorded for every four live births.
Similar legislative changes regarding abortion led to similarly dramatic increases elsewhere across Western Europe too. The verdict of history is clear: whenever unrestricted abortion has become available, it has become common, and women and babies have suffered terribly as a result.
When abortion becomes readily available, it doesn’t just become common, it’s becomes routine. We see the effects of this too in the figures for repeat abortions in England and Wales, where 38% of women undergoing terminations have had at least one abortion.
Some of those campaigning for unlimited abortion say they are doing so to advance women’s rights. No woman wants to go through the awful experience of abortion: and yet one in three women in the UK will go through it during their lives.
Abortion providers bear much of the blame for pushing abortion as a first option, regardless of the costs of this approach.
Scandal-plagued abortion providers such as Marie Stopes: which has repeatedly been condemned by the Care Quality Commission for shocking failures in patient care including jeopardising the lives of women, employing staff with limited training, failing to ensure that vulnerable women fully understand the procedure and even allegedly paying bonuses to staff to encourage women to go through with a termination.
If we vote to open the door to abortion-on-demand, we can expect to see similar abuses occurring in Ireland, with the dreadful effects being experienced by our women, not to mention the Irish babies who will never be born.
We can do better for our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends than proposing abortion-on-demand as a solution to a problem caused by society turning its back on those who need help to bring children into this world.
Our Government can do better too, and by voting No we will ensure that they have to.
Cora Sherlock is deputy chairperson of the Pro Life Campaign