Sunday 26 March 2017

I cried as I waited for Dáil to legislate for compassion

'Nothing has changed since the introduction of Daly’s bill last February, and nothing will change for women if this bill is not passed.'
'Nothing has changed since the introduction of Daly’s bill last February, and nothing will change for women if this bill is not passed.'
Deirdre Conroy

Deirdre Conroy

I had not realised what the sound of an apology could do. I cried in the Dáil gallery on Thursday last, alongside two other parents who have endured the journey of fatal foetal abnormality (FFA).

I was braced for the usual slurs, rage, disrespect and inaccuracies to be fired across the floor. In June 2013, the debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy (PLDP) Bill descended into farce, with TDs wandering in and out from the bar until 5am, 'Lapgate' being the low point. Last year, I endured the disdain made of Clare Daly TD's amendment to that PLDP Act to include terminations for fatal foetal abnormality. It gave religious zealots a chance to question the credibility of women who had been handed the tragic diagnosis from an expert obstetrician. The Taoiseach even drew on anecdotes from his Mayo neighbours to support his opposition.

Last Thursday, after Clare Daly gave her robust opening argument, it was Minister for Health Simon Harris who responded. The usual Fine Gael platitudes were soon overtaken with, what seemed to me, genuine feeling, as he emphasised that "only the heartless could fail to be moved" by the plight of women having to leave the country.

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