Tuesday 21 November 2017

Parents plead with Taoiseach to allow a free vote on foetal abnormalities bill

David Kearns

Foetal abnormality campaigners have asked the Taoiseach to allow a free vote on the issue.

A letter signed by women who have carried to term foetuses which could not survive outside the womb has been sent Enda Kenny ahead of the vote on the proposed bill by Independent TD Clare Daly that would allow abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

“We understand that you yourself have strong and sincerely held pro-life views,” the letter reads.

“However, we cannot stress enough that this Bill is not related to the wider abortion debate… but rather it deals exclusively with situations where the foetus has been medically diagnosed as being incompatible with life – that is to say cannot live outside the womb.”

Read More: Mick Wallace blasts Government's claims as 'horse-s**t' in highly charged, emotional debate on abortion

Sent by the campaign group Terminations For Medical Reasons (TFMR), the letter challenges claims that an amendment allowing abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormality would be unconstitutional or could lead to terminations in cases were a child might only live for a few minutes or hours after birth.

“These comments are being made on the basis of an undisclosed, undated and therefore an unchallengeable legal opinion from the current Attorney General.”

“There are cases, most notable the 'X' Case in 1992 where the Supreme Court disagreed with the AG in relation to a question on constitutionality specifically in relation to Article 40.3.3.”

TFMR has released a documentary ahead of the amendment vote telling the story of pregnant women who were diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormality in Irish hospitals.

In an emotional address this week, TD Richard Boyd Barrett told the Dail of his own personal tragedy when he had to bury his daughter Ella after she was diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormality

Echoing Mr Boyd-Barrett's final comments, TFMR ask the Taoiseach in their letter to empathise with those who will carry a child with fatal foetal abnormality in the future.

“The outcome in all our circumstances was sadly a foregone conclusion and we live with the pain of our losses every day of our lives.”

“Please think of the parents who are going through this now, and in years to come. We urge you to remove the whip and allow a free vote on such a significant Bill.”

Online Editors

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