Saturday 18 August 2018

I don't agree unborn babies should have no rights - Leo Varadkar's revealing New York Times interview

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Picture: Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Picture: Steve Humphreys
Kathy Armstrong

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 chatted 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 Eight 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 fetus, 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 fetus, 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."

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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.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) walks with his Irish counterpart Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (C) and his partner Dr. Matthew Barrett during the Montreal Pride parade in Montreal, Canada August 20, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) walks with his Irish counterpart Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (C) and his partner Dr. Matthew Barrett during the Montreal Pride parade in Montreal, Canada August 20, 2017. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

"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."

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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.

"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."

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