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Tuesday 20 November 2018

Taoiseach refuses to change abortion law to cover fatal foetal abnormality

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has ruled out changing the law to allow abortions in the 1,500 pregnancies every year where the baby has no chance of survival.

The decision came after the Dail heard that four women were being told every day that their unborn child had fatal abnormalities.

Many women travel abroad for abortions rather than have to go through the full pregnancy when the child has no chance of survival.

But Mr Kenny told Independent TD John Halligan that he could not change the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill currently going through the Dail.

"While I understand the point the deputy is making, this bill deals with the circumstances in which a termination of pregnancy is allowable, namely, where there is a real and substantial threat to the life of the mother," he said.

Mr Kenny said that as a husband and father, he knew the sense of excitement a pregnancy brought to a couple, who were hoping for the birth of a child that could live a long, happy and fulfilling life.

And he said he had sympathy for parents who learned their unborn child had a fatal abnormality.

"I have come across cases where the pregnant mother wanted to see the pregnancy through in order that she could hold the delivered baby in her arms and carry out an appropriate burial," he said.

However, Mr Halligan told him that lobby group Termination for Medical Reasons had drafted an amendment to the bill which was in line with the Constitution.

He said he had spoken to a woman whose baby had lived for 25 seconds, and she remained traumatised three years on.

"She is unable to have sexual relations with her husband. She wakes up with nightmares because of what she saw," he said.


Another Independent TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, said there was no good reason why women in such heartbreaking situations could not get an abortion.

He spoke recently about losing one of his own children after she was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality.

Labour Wicklow TD Anne Ferris said she believed there should be another referendum to allow for a less restrictive abortion regime.

And Sinn Fein Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley said his party also supported allowing abortions in such cases.

Irish Independent

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