Monday 21 October 2019

Women still being forced to travel for abortions in tragic cases, Dáil told

TD Ruth Coppinger. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
TD Ruth Coppinger. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

WOMEN who receive a tragic foetal diagnosis are still being forced to travel abroad for abortions, the Dáil has heard.

The issue was raised by Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger who said that three women who have contacted her have had to go to England for a termination for “medical reasons”.

She said one of them had a scan at Portiuncula Hospital and got a diagnosis of possible Edward’s Syndrome and was told there was only a 15pc chance of delivery and the baby “might live for an hour or so”.

Ms Coppinger said: “But the doctor then said for whatever reason that they couldn’t do anything as she was over 12 weeks.”

She said the woman was given the names of three hospitals in England.

The woman – who she called ‘Mary’ – was directed to Galway University Hospital by the HSE – and told there was no one there to see her and she “won’t get to a second trimester”.

She said it was at this stage that “Mary and her husband had had enough, they walked out and within hours they had made appointment to go to England”.

Ms Coppinger added: “As Mary said to me ‘I’d lose my head if I had to continue this pregnancy but Ireland will do nothing for me’.”

Ms Coppinger asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “Why in this country is such a distinction made between fatal and severe abnormalities that isn’t made in other countries?

Mr Varadkar said 274 GPs have now signed up to provide terminations along with then hospital units and the service will continue to be developed.

“In relation to the difference between fatal abnormalities and severe abnormalities… we as an Oireachtas… decided that disability would not be grounds for the termination of a pregnancy but fatal abnormalities would be.

“A severe abnormality is very often a disability.”

“That was a decision that we made as a House that we would make that distinction that it would not be a grounds for terminations after 12 weeks.

He added: “I don’t really want to comment on any individual cases.

“I know that the diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality must be a very difficult one for anybody – for the mum or the dad or the family – a much wanted pregnancy and then finding out something as gone wrong.

“And without knowing the individual facts of any case it would be inappropriate for me to comment on them.”

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