Thursday 26 April 2018

Sean Haughey fears abortion for children with cleft lip

TD Sean Haughey, who was born with a cleft lip, spoke of his gratitude to his parents Charlie and Maureen. Photo: Steve Humphreys
TD Sean Haughey, who was born with a cleft lip, spoke of his gratitude to his parents Charlie and Maureen. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Shona Murray

Fianna Fáil TD Sean Haughey has thanked his parents for supporting him as a child with a cleft-lip when other people may have chosen to have had an abortion in the same circumstances.

The son of former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey was speaking in the Dáil during a debate on the Eighth Amendment.

Mr Haughey said the number of abortions for disabilities such as cleft lip and Down Syndrome had tripled in the UK.

He added that a facial birth defect such as his requires “significant treatment” including “corrective surgery at birth” and orthodontic treatment as well as grommets for hearing.

The Dublin Bay North TD thanked his parents for their dedication to him and for the “numerous trips to dental surgery”.

He pointed out that a cleft lip, Down syndrome and other non-fatal abnormalities can be detected much earlier than before because of technological advancements.

He said that in his opinion they will likely become reasons for terminations in this country should the Eighth Amendment be repealed and unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks is introduced.

“Abortions are happening on basis of appearance,” he said. Mr Haughey added that he is aware there is a demand for change: “But the proposed legislation is too extreme and goes too far.”

The issue of abortion in cases of disability including Down syndrome dominated the debate in the Dáil last night. Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath said it was wrong for activists on either side of the debate to “exploit” the issue of non-fatal abnormalities.

The CEO of Down Syndrome Ireland, Gary Owens, intervened earlier this week after a poster for a pro-life group said “90pc of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in Britain are aborted”. He said this was disrespectful to children and adults with Down syndrome.

Irish Independent

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