Monday 25 September 2017

Varadkar: unborn are not equal, but should have rights

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Picture: Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Picture: Steve Humphreys

Kathy Armstrong

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that he doesn't agree that unborn babies should have no rights whatsoever.

The Fine Gael leader has shared his thoughts on abortion in a frank interview with the 'New York Times', where he also spoke about his sexuality and finding love with his partner, Dr Matthew Barrett.

Mr Varadkar (38) gave an insight into his views on abortion ahead of the referendum next year on whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which gives equal rights to the mother and the foetus.

He said: "As a doctor, I would perform pregnancy scans and while I don't accept the view that the unborn child, the foetus, if you prefer that term, should have equal rights to an adult woman, to the mother, I don't share this view that the baby in the womb, the foetus, whatever term you want to use, should have no rights at all.

"And there are people who take the view that human rights only begin after you're born and that a child in the womb with a beating heart, the ability to hear, the ability to feel pain, should have no rights whatsoever. I don't agree with that."

Mr Varadkar has been in a relationship with Dr Barrett for over two years and said that his partner is "unconditionally" by his side.

He said: "I suppose it's the first serious relationship I'd ever been in, and he's somebody who's unconditionally on my side, and I suppose your mother is that, too, but it's very different.

"Also, he's somebody who I can confide in and somebody who can say things to me that I need to hear, if I've made a mistake or if I'm way out of order, and he'll say that to me.

"And I'll know he's right, even if I didn't like to hear it.

"He's far brighter than me. When we were in Chicago, we went to a bar where they play 'Jeopardy', and he was pressing the buzzer before there was even time to read the questions."

He admitted that he spent years trying to hide his sexuality and said he was prompted to tell the public he is gay because of the marriage equality referendum.

He said: "I would have kept my private life very private. Maybe didn't have much of a private life as well.

"You know, a lot of people sort of turn themselves into their careers, and that's something I definitely did, both as a doctor and a politician.

"But I was very conscious that a referendum was coming up on marriage equality.

"That was really the catalyst for me.

"And as a government minister, you know, I couldn't go out there advocating a change in the Constitution and somehow pretend that it didn't really affect me or that it wasn't something that I wasn't taking personally."

He recalled discussing the issue of marriage equality with his political colleagues, including an unnamed fellow minister, before coming out.

"And I do remember discussions that I would have had with other politicians, and the one that really stuck with me was another minister who was very supportive of marriage equality who talked about being generous to 'them'. And so it was 'them'.

"And I thought I needed to tell my colleagues that I was one of 'them'.

"We're here among you, lots of us.

"And secondly, the line about it being generosity.

"It's actually something that we should have. So if I wasn't willing to show leadership on this, then I was in the wrong business."

Irish Independent

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