domingo, 25 de febrero de 2018

Date set for Ireland’s abortion referendum

Date set for Ireland’s abortion referendum


Date set for Ireland’s abortion referendum
Ireland will go to the polls on May 25 to vote on the country’s constitutional ban on abortion, as both pro-life and pro-choice organisations intensify their campaigning.

Earlier this week health minister Simon Harris was given approval to draft a bill that would delete the controversial 8th constitutional amendment, and replace it with a new article enabling the parliament to regulate abortion services in Ireland.

Currently, the constitution contains the following passage which is understood to prohibit abortion except in cases where a mother’s life is at risk:

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.
It is expected that the parliament will legalise abortion up to 12 weeks if the vote is successful.

Pro-choice advocates have gone on a media blitz, publishing blistering criticisms of the current abortion restrictions in the country.

“This referendum is an opportunity for all in Ireland to “trust women” and to ensure better, safer health care for both those who want to end their pregnancies and those who wish to keep them”, University of Keele law lecturer Sorcha Uí Chonnachtaigh wrote in The Conversation.

Pro-life campaigners are warning voters that changes to the abortion law will likely lead to abortion on demand.

“Any talk about time limits is meaningless”, said Aine Kierans, spokesperson for the Pro-Life Campaign. “Once the 8th Amendment is removed, it will inevitably lead to abortion on demand, because that's what we've seen in other jurisdictions”.

BioEdge is a bioethical gadfly, nipping and biting at what we perceive to be bad arguments and unhealthy developments. But the recent story about a Japanese man who fathered 13 children with the help of mothers hired in Thailand suggests that almost any bioethical approach is better than none – and “none” was the position of the Bangkok judge who awarded him custody.

"The petitioner is an heir and president of a well-known company listed in a stock exchange in Japan, owner and shareholder in many companies ... which shows the petitioner has professional stability and an ample income to raise all the children. Therefore, it is ruled that all the 13 children are legal children of the petitioner … and the petitioner is their sole guardian."
Any bioethicist would immediately comment that this decision ignores many important issues. Are children just property? What about the rights of the surrogate mothers? Is it right to raise 13 boys without mothers? Is it right to raise 13 boys together like cattle? Is wealth a substitute for parenting? Is fatherhood simply a matter of sperm donation?

It sounds as though the judge merely wanted to hand the boys over to Japan. In his words (as reported) I can detect no inkling of the fact that the issue is more complicated than a commercial property transaction. It sounds as though Thailand urgently needs bioethics education.

Michael Cook
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Ireland will go to the polls on May 25
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