Irish Genocide Featured

Editor's Comment The author makes a grim prediction, regarding the recent legislation in Ireland permitting limited abortion for the first time, based on what has transpired in the UK since it passed a similar legislation in 1968. He draws an analogy of mass abortion to the mass killings (genocide) of Irish citizens during the heyday of British imperialism; however, it might have been better to focus on recent history, in particular, the case of Savita Halappanavar, who was denied abortion despite the fact that she had a miscarriage, and consequentially died. The prediction of the author may or may not take place in the future, but the changes to the draconian abortion law were necessary.

Can a nation, a people choose to commit suicide? Individuals do it all the time & compassion is called for but...a whole ethnic group? Genocide is the ugly name for a forced, imposed extermination of a race but...self-inflicted national genocide, is that possible? And any better?

The priest fears the Irish people may have determined on just that: mass suicide. Yes, I do mean the legislation passed by that government to allow ‘limited’ abortion. Ominous words. Because, experience teaches, they do not mean what they say.

Termination – the deliberate destruction of the unborn, to call a spade a spade – will be allowed if the woman’s life is at risk, including from suicide, the new law stipulates.

Déjà vu. On 1 April 1968 England and Wales also implemented an Abortion Act. Establishing a new right or liberty to abortion on demand? No, the Act did not. It merely defined limits of legality. One key condition was that termination was not an offence if ‘the continuation of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of injury to the physical or mental health...’etcetera. ‘Limited’ abortion, in other words. Does it ring a bell?

How many abortions in the UK since 1968? Figures online vary from five to six millions or more. Statistics bore me your own research. Regardless, the aborted babies are millions. Even Lord Steel, the Liberal creep who pushed the fateful Act, apparently admitted in 2007 that he had not predicted ‘anything like’ the subsequent extent of terminations. ‘Too many abortions’, he is reported to have said. Indeed.

Professor Dunstan, an eminent Anglican moral theologian & teacher of mine, noted that after 1968 abortion figures grew incrementally. Most of them were in private clinic, not in the NHS. Would numbers have been so high if the law had forbidden ‘the procurement of abortion for profit’, he wondered? Namely, on payment of fees? Discuss.

Is it irrational or unwarranted to speculate that, if England’s example means anything, Ireland will follow suit? Namely that ‘limited’ abortion is a lie? That Ireland too has opened the door to abortion on demand? That an Irish Lord Steel will also say in twenty years: ‘Too many abortions’? That he had never intended ‘anything like’ that? But it will be too late. How many unborn children will have died by then? Another genocide? A massacre of the innocents?

‘Genocide’ is the word A.J.P. Taylor, the great English historian, used to describe the terrible Irish famine begun in 1845. ‘There was food available to save the Irish people from starvation. It was denied them’, Taylor wrote. Ireland was then part of Great Britain, the richest country in the world, yet the Irish were deliberately left to starve to death. The British governing class ‘killed two million Irish people’.

Of course, the English regarded the Irish as a somewhat inferior race. Dirty, lazy, feckless, rebellious and Roman Catholics to boot. The famine was what they richly deserved. ‘The Irish people were driven off their land. They were starved, degraded, treated worse than animals’ – Taylor again. Obviously so. Genocide goes hand in hand with the dehumanizing of the victims. So media commentators regularly call unborn babies merely ‘foetuses’, as if they were hardly human...

The genocide of the Irish people the historian so passionately indicted was inflicted on them by England. A frightening thought haunts me: is there another genocide ahead? This time one self-inflicted? A mass suicide, a superlative decimation the abortion law will result in? Is that Ireland’s future?

Naturally, the Irish RC bishops have campaigned against the new law but to no effect. ‘The Catholic Church has brought upon herself’, I heard an Irishman say. ‘It is divine punishment.’ He meant the child abuse scandal which has besmirched the Church’s image in the eyes of so many ordinary Catholics. In a sense, he is right. The Church has sinned. But it is obscene to think that God would punish the innocent unborn children for the sins of others, guilty ones. That would not be the God of Christianity, the father of Jesus Christ, but some savage, tribal idol.

There is the vexed question of the moral status of the unborn, the human embryo. Some would deny that he should be accorded the protection ethics and law grant to a born child. The absolutist position, sponsored officially by Rome, is that life is such from the time of conception, hence the embryo deserves total protection, has full right to life from that. In fact, the Christian Church has not always been absolutist. St Gregory of Nyssa did not believe that ‘the unformed embryo’ was a full human being but a ‘potential one’ and the Catholic Church distinguished between fetus animatus and fetus inanimatus until 1902. In the ages of faith severity of penances for those guilty of abortion were also graded according to stages of foetal development.

Note, however, that even those pregnant mothers who do not give a toss for Christian teaching recognise by implication that the unborn has at least some rights of protection - he is not a mere alien abscess inside them - when they abstain from drinking and smoking during pregnancy, for example.

The priest, as a crusty Anglican, is not absolutist. He grants there are special and exceptional circumstances in which abortion may be the lesser evil – but still an evil, mind. A grave, real risk of the woman’ death would be a case in point. However, that is not the truth of what he sees the English Abortion Act having accomplished. Abortion on demand is the stark reality, whatever the original intention of the Act.

The risk – however remote and avoidable - of which the Irish new law speaks will cause the deaths of many innocent unborn children in the womb. That is what I dread and fear. A second Irish genocide. Is that what the Irish people desire?

Last modified on Wednesday, 17 July 2013 17:31

Frank Gelli I am an Anglican priest and cultural critic and commentator. I have BA in Philosophy, MA in Christian Ethics, MA in Islamic Studies, PGCE in Religious Education and Oxford Certificate in Theology. I have been a journalist & drama critic in Italy and England.
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