Wednesday, 28 November 2018
Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Report Stage (Resumed)
When it comes to termination on the grounds proposed - race, gender and disability - the Bill clearly makes it an offence that carries a prison sentence of up to 14 years and it does so by stating the starting position is that it is an offence to procure and aid. It is a wide ranging group of offences, except in certain circumstances, none of which include race, disability, gender or anything else to do with the condition of the foetus. After 12 weeks, no one can seek or be involved in a termination in any way on the grounds set out in the amendment - disability, race, gender or anything else, other than what is stated very clearly in the legislation - a fatal foetal abnormality, a risk to the life of the mother or a serious risk to the health of the mother. Anything other than that carries a potential prison sentence of 14 years. That is what the Bill states and it could not be stronger in disallowing terminations on grounds of disability.
There is a counter argument that it does not state before 12 weeks and that, theoretically, a woman could undergo screening and decide that she will have an abortion on those grounds. Let us think that through. The figures used for China, Pakistan and India were related to a culture in which terminations were sometimes sought, outrageously so, if the data are correct, where the foetus was a girl.