This is What Abortion Would Look Like in the U.S. if Abortion Opponents Had Their Way

U.S. abortion opponents often point to Ireland as the ideal when it comes to “protecting women” via quality abortion restrictions. They cite that the maternal mortality rate shows how high quality the care is that is given to pregnant people, and tout the country’s in essence complete ban on all abortion as a key factor in that outcome. They rallied in opposition when Ireland’s laws changed to allow abortion in cases where a pregnant person’s life was in danger either because of health issues or threats of suicide, terrified that the new loopholes would allow abortion to occur willy nilly.

They need not have worried. When faced with a true threat of suicide, the state still forced the person to remain pregnant and give birth.

The woman in question didn’t discover she was pregnant as a result of sexual assault until into her eighth week of pregnancy. By that time, she had already moved to Ireland from her home country and, as a foreign national, had no ability to leave the country again in order to travel to England, as most women do when they want an abortion. She was told that she would be helped with travel, but it could take six weeks, according to her interview with the Irish Times. But she had no money to pay, and the state would not cover the costs, leaving her eventually 16 weeks along, still pregnant, still unable to leave the country to obtain an abortion, and now suicidal.

After her first attempt at suicide was interrupted, she was sent to a hospital for evaluation, but was told she was too far along for an abortion, even if she was intending to take her own life rather than remain pregnant. “The next day, around 10am, I was taken in a taxi to another hospital,” she told reporters. “…When we got there I thought they were going to help me. They brought me to a room where they did a scan and the pregnancy was 24 weeks and one day …They said they could not do an abortion. I said, ‘You can leave me now to die. I don’t want to live in this world anymore’.”

Instead of help, she was under constant surveillance, never left alone. She stopped eating and drinking in another attempt to kill herself, but was told after a few days that her abortion had been approved so she needed to stop her strike to have enough strength for it. When the day they promised came, however, they told her she would have a C-section instead, and the fetus would be delivered at 25 weeks, just a week or two past the blurry line of viability. Once delivered, it would be taken by the state, and that was the only “help” they could offer someone like her.

She told the Irish Times she “had not wanted a child of the rape to come into this world.” Instead, the hospital argues that it was carrying out her wish for an abortion, but that it had no way to do it other than via C-section. “It is important to note that a pregnancy can be terminated by way of delivery through Caesarean section, as it was in this instance,” they responded.

The timeline of this incident is the most important issue. Between making the pregnant person believe she would get help until she was too far along, then teasing her with claims they would allow her the abortion in order to force her to stay pregnant the last few weeks they needed in order to get the fetus past the line of viability so it could possibly be born alive and survive, it’s clear that their interest throughout was to do whatever was necessary to avoid an abortion and instead produce a live birth, regardless of the desires, physical or emotional health of the person who was pregnant (and how it may affect her to always know that child may be out there, a constant reminder of her assault). A coerced C-section is the delivery type at that point most likely to result in an unharmed, live baby, regardless of how that physically harms the pregnant person, who not only has to recover from major abdominal surgery, but could potentially lose the ability to have a vaginal birth in the future.

While what happened in Ireland seems extreme, it is also the ideal for those who are currently pushing a number of our own abortion restrictions in the United States. As we see so-called “Personhood” bills grant legal protection to fertilized eggs, and “heartbeat” bans eliminate access to abortion from less than 2 weeks after a missed period, new bills being passed in legislatures and challenged in the courts offer no exceptions for sexual assault victims and no opening for an abortion if a pregnant person would rather kill herself than remain pregnant or give birth.

Even our newer bills, such as 20 week post conception bans, offer no “health of the pregnant person” loopholes, because far right lawmakers claim that “health” was so vague that “you could drive a Mack truck through it.” Would those same lawmakers believe that suicidal attempts are enough to justify an abortion to save a person’s life? Considering the number of them touting the idea that abortion itself makes people suicidal, it would be simple enough for them to justify erring on the side of caution and a live birth.

Ireland had made it clear in their latest case that despite any new law on the book, their hospitals and medical practitioners will continue to force people to remain pregnant through delay tactics, tricks, coercion and whatever else they can  think of until they can remain relatively confident that a live birth will result, and that they will then risk the health of the pregnant person to bring that live birth about. When they have finished, then they can at least tell themselves with a clear conscience that regardless of the law being in place, they never truly terminated a pregnancy.

That’s an ideal that many abortion opponents in the U.S. want to emulate, and that’s an idea that should terrify us all.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim V
Jim Ven10 months ago


Jerome S
Jerome S10 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Leia P.
Leia P.3 years ago


Heather G.
Heather G3 years ago

Dan O, you don't really care about babies or fetuses. All you care about is that a woman might CHOOSE to not birth a baby after she's pregnant. What are you doing about all the spontaneous abortions (aka miscarriages) that happen and all the fertilized eggs that flow out with menstruation? NOTHING. What are you doing about the already-born who are neglected and abused? NOTHING. It's easier to TELL someone else what to do than to actually do something yourself.

Katie & Bill D3 years ago

Thank you

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Now of course in recent years the "anti-abortion" zealots have attempted to "reinterpret" this passage to somehow mean a miscarriage where the fetus lives, but that is simply a nonsensical "reimaging" of what is stated to meet a current anti-abortion agenda, and fails to stand up to scholarly scrutiny.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

The mention of "life for life," in ver. 23, is followed by an enunciation of the general "law of retaliation," applied here (it would seem) to the special case in hand, but elsewhere (Leviticus 24:19, 20) extended so as to be a fundamental law, applicable to all cases of personal injury.

Verse 22. - If men strive and hurt a woman. A chance hurt is clearly intended, not one done on purpose. So that her fruit depart from her. So that she be prematurely delivered of a dead child.

And no mischief follow. "Mischief" here means "death," as in Genesis 42:4, 38; Genesis 44:29. He shall pay as the judges determine. He was not to be wholly at the mercy of the injured father. If he thought the sum demanded was excessive, there was to be an appeal to a tribunal.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 22-25. - Assault producing miscarriage. Retaliation. Women in all countries are apt to interfere in the quarrels of men, and run the risk of suffering injuries which proceed from accident rather than design, one such injury being of a peculiar character, to which there is nothing correspondent among the injuries which may be done to man. This is abortion, or miscarriage.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.

22. Injury arising to a pregnant woman out of an affray.

And if men strive together (i.e. quarrel and fight, ch. Exodus 2:13, 2 Samuel 14:6, Psalms 60 title. The same words in Deuteronomy 25:2. Not the verb used in v. 18 (which means only to dispute in words).

hurt] properly, smite or strike (ch. Exodus 8:2; Isaiah 19:22): so v. 35. Probably the woman is to be thought of (as in Deuteronomy 25:11) as intervening to separate the combatants.

her fruit depart] Heb. her children (a generic plural) come forth (Genesis 25:25; Genesis 38:28).

but no (other) mischief happen] i.e. no permanent injury from the miscarriage. ‘Mischief’ (’âsôn, v. 23, Genesis 42:4; Genesis 42:38; Genesis 44:29 †) means some serious, or even (cf. v. 23) fatal, bodily injury.

fined] viz. for the loss of the child, which would have been the parents’ property. Holzinger cites for parallels, among the Arabs, W.R. Smith, ZATW. 1892, p. 163, and among the Kirghissians, in Turkestan, Radloff, Aus Sibirien (1884), p. 524; here, if a pregnant woman is injured so that her child is born dead, the penalty is a horse or a camel according to its age (the penalty for killing a free man being a fine of 100 horses, and for killing a woman or slave, 50 horses).