Women who want abortion 'should hear heartbeat first'

Mattie McGrath backed move

Cormac McQuinn and Philip Ryan

Women seeking an abortion should be offered the opportunity to view an ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of a foetus under a proposed change to the Government's planned law for terminations tabled by pro-life TDs.

Doctors who do not do this would face a fine or possible jail sentence under the terms of the amendment being sought by a group of eight TDs including Independent Mattie McGrath.


The suggestion is among a series of proposed changes to the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018 put forward by anti-abortion TDs and set to be debated by the Oireachtas Health Committee next week.

Other proposed amendments include doctors taking all "appropriate and practicable" steps to avoid causing pain to the foetus and regulations to provide for the "dignified disposal" of remains either by burial or cremation.

In relation to the ultrasound and heartbeat proposal, a doctor would be required to perform the scan at least 24 hours before a termination.

The woman would be offered an opportunity to view the ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of the foetus, if audible.

The doctor would have to certify that an ultrasound was carried out and that the woman was told she could view it and obtain a signature from her confirming this has been done.

Doctors who contravene certain sections of the proposed rules could face fines or a jail term of up to four years after conviction on indictment.

Health Minister Simon Harris' spokesperson declined to comment last night.

The Government, which will respond at next week's committee meetings, hopes to pass legislation in time for services to become available from January.

Separately, Sinn Fein suspended Meath West TD Peadar Toibin for six months after he defied the party and voted against the abortion legislation in the Dail.

He will not be allowed to stand as a Sinn Fein candidate if there is a general election in that time.

Mr Toibin said TDs are responsible for the laws they vote for and "I could not in conscience vote for the bill".