Monday 20 November 2017

We need to talk about all kinds of abortion

After watching the BBC documentary, Carol Hunt says we must look beyond perceptions of 'good' and 'bad' terminations

Carol Hunt

Carol Hunt

Minister of State Simon Harris believes that a referendum on the issue of abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality is "inevitable". But next Tuesday he won't be supporting Clare Daly's Bill to amend legislation to allow abortion in such cases. Nor will his other colleagues in Fine Gael, and neither will Sinn Fein. Labour are divided and Fianna Fail will give a free vote. It won't pass.

Much of the criticism about the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act 2013, stemmed from the fact that it excluded a right to abortion in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality. In the past year we've heard distressing stories about parents having to travel to the UK to deliver babies who never had a chance of survival; we saw the case of a suicidal rape victim forced to deliver a baby, through Caesarian section, at 25 weeks; and we saw a family put through the trauma of having to take a case to the High Court to allow a brain-dead woman's life support machine to be switched off because she was 14 weeks pregnant.

These are all horrific tragedies. All but the most purist of anti-abortion campaigners surely agree that "something must be done" to allow women in these situations to access abortion legally in this country. The problem of course is how to do this, without having to legislate for some level of abortion on demand. The above, you see, are the abortions that we are allowed to talk about, the "sympathetic abortions". They are, to all intents and purposes, regarded as "good" or at least "not bad" abortions. The women who need to avail of them are either pregnant through force or they desperately wanted the baby in the first place. In all of these cases is a tragedy. These women are deserving of our sympathy, our understanding and our mercy.

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