DUBLIN — Pro-life campaigners in Ireland vowed to work for the repeal of a controversial abortion law introduced in 2013.
An estimated 15,000 members of the Pro-Life Campaign came to Dublin May 3 to participate in the National Vigil for Life.
Ahead of local and European elections set for May 23, speakers encouraged supporters not to back politicians that supported the laws which, for the first time in Ireland, permit abortion in certain circumstances.
Caroline Simons, PLC legal consultant, said she was "massively encouraged by turnout at vigil."
"We realize it's going to be a difficult road back, but we are massively encouraged that so many people are ready to get on board at this stage to help turn things around," she said.
In her address to the vigil, Simons said the government thought that after the law's passage, "the pro-life movement would be crushed and beaten."
"How wrong they were. Your presence here today is proof that we are wasting no time in starting to rebuild. It's going to take time, but when the public comes to realize the full horror of what the new legislation involves support for the repeal of the law will gather pace," she said.
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill was signed in to law July 30 after tense parliamentary debates during which several legislators resigned. However, while enacted, the government has yet to provide guidelines on the law meaning that no abortions have yet taken place.
When the guidelines are issued, the law will permit abortions when there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother, including when a woman says the continuation of the pregnancy leads to suicidal thoughts. It would also provide for jail terms of up to 14 years for those performing abortions in circumstances other than permitted by the law.
Under the law, the procedures for assessing the risk to the life of the mother differ depending on the woman's condition. One doctor will be able to make a decision on whether to terminate a pregnancy in an emergency situation in which a mother's life is in danger.
Where there is risk of loss of a woman's life from physical illness, but where the situation is not an emergency and suicide intent is not a factor, two doctors will be needed to make the decision. However, in cases of suicide intent, the suicidal woman will be interviewed by a panel of three doctors, two psychiatrists and one obstetrician, who must agree unanimously.