State rejects foetus pain relief bid
THE Government has rejected an amendment to require pain relief to be given to unborn children during an abortion – as the abortion bill finally passed through the Seanad.
The passage of the bill by 39 votes to 14 completed a lengthy process lasting over eight months. The bill will now go to President Higgins to be signed into law. Alternatively, he may refer it to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality.
There were protests from opposition senators as the Government imposed a guilllotine on debate on the bill at 8pm – even though around 40 of the 62 proposed opposition amendments had not yet been discussed.
The Seanad had been discussing the bill, which had already been passed by the Dail, for over a week.
On the Seanad's final day considering the bill, the most controversial issue was that of pain relief for the unborn child during abortions.
Rebel Fine Gael Senator Fidelma Healy Eames insisted that the bill should require pain relief to be given to a foetus over 16 weeks old when it was receiving a potassium chloride injection into the heart.
"That is going to cause an instant – within one minute – heart attack for the baby. It is the very same lethal injection used in executions," she said.
However, the Government won a vote to reject her "pain relief" amendment by 34 votes to 14.
Junior Minister for Primary Care Alex White cited a wide-ranging medical study in Britain, which stated that a foetus cannot feel pain before 24 weeks because the required connections in the brain have not yet been fully formed.
Labour senator John Gilroy said it was preposterous to be talking about providing pain relief for a foetus at 16 weeks when the broad medical evidence showed that the foetus could not feel any pain at this stage.