Congressman Trent Franks Gets a Wee Bit Irish on Anti-Choice Policy


Arizona Congressman Trent Franks enjoys pushing his views on abortion on any group within his political power. He sponsored a national ban on sex-selection abortions, despite the fact that there is no evidence of widespread use of sex selection abortion in the United States, nor any evidence that such a ban would work in any case.  He tried to ban abortion after 20 weeks in Washington, D.C., regardless of the fact that he doesn’t even represent the District, calling it his constitutional duty to force his own beliefs onto the women of the District if doing so could potentially force women into childbearing.

Now, he’s taking his extreme anti-choice zeal across the ocean, weighing in on the debate over legalizing abortion in Ireland. Currently, abortion is illegal under all circumstances, a law that forces women, even those with severe health risks, to travel to England in order to terminate a pregnancy as no doctors will currently offer the procedure out of threat of legal action. A panel put together at the request of the European Court of Human Rights will decide whether or not to clarify and better explain at what point a woman can obtain a medically necessary abortion without fear of prosecution.

This must be discouraged, according to Franks and other anti-choice congressmen, who claim that Ireland’s strict anti-abortion law is an inspiration to the rest of the world. In a letter to the Prime Minister, Franks and his cohorts urge the leader to ignore any advice from the panel that is gathering information for the decision, calling it biased in favor of abortion.

Via Irish Central, the letter reads in part:

“A concern has been expressed to us that the composition of the expert group seems predisposed to issue recommendations that infringe on the right to life, rather than a simple clarification….The absence of experts of known pro-life views and the presence of some of known pro-abortion views were especially noted…It is our hope Ireland remains staunchly pro-life and continues to give this vital example in Europe and throughout the world. We offer our strong support to you in this effort.”

Anti-choice activists in Ireland recently claimed that abortion is never necessary to save a woman’s life, saying that medical treatment may be necessary that would indirectly cause the death of the fetus or embryo, but that to directly terminate a pregnancy should not be an option. 

“As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynaecology,” the declaration said, “we affirm that direct abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.”

“We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.

“We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women.”

Is “direct abortion” never “medically necessary to save the life of a woman”? One Arizona mother, who needed an abortion to treat her pulmonary hypertension would probably disagree. So would the young teen in the Dominican Republic who was denied chemotherapy until she was past her first trimester, and died of complications.

Are these allowable cases under the rules in Ireland?  No one is quite sure. But if Franks and his colleagues have their way, they never will be.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

Follow Robin Marty on twitter: @robinmarty