Dáil debates

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Report Stage (Resumed)


3:10 pm

Photo of Bríd SmithBríd Smith (Dublin South Central, People Before Profit Alliance) | Oireachtas source

The amendment was introduced by its proposers as having stemmed from meeting somebody who survived an horrendous attempt at abortion. However, the wording of the amendment has nothing to do with that, but rather is, as the Minister said, an attempt to undermine the entire sentiment of the legislation and the referendum we had to repeal the eighth amendment of the Constitution.

I am not a scientist or a medical person. I read this and spoke to a doctor friend of mine. This attempts to rule out abortion in the case of disability and gender where the pregnancy has not exceeded 12 weeks.

4 o’clock

Until now at least, in the medical and scientific community, one could not determine the gender or the presence of disability until approximately 11 weeks. An expensive, hard to attain test called a cell-free fetal DNA test is then required. The chromosomal make-up in the foetal material is examined and if it has two X chromosomes, the foetus will be a female, or if has an XY chromosome, it will be male. If anyone tried to have that test done at 11 weeks, there is no guarantee that they will get the result, and the result would not be available within a week, which would put them outside the 12-week limit this legislation has provided for.

The reason most parents or pregnant people want to have that test is linked to genetic disorders rather than trying to eradicate all the Down's syndrome people on the planet. That is why it is called a cell-free fetal DNA test. It is carried out to identify certain diseases that are linked to the X chromosome, two of which are carried by the female gender. Rather than this being about how China or Pakistan trying to eliminate females from their society, as it was put in what I consider racist terms, the test on the female, if it is carried out, is very much linked to whether there is a genetic disposition to conditions such as muscular dystrophy, haemophilia or Hunter's syndrome. That is where a family is worried if they have a genetic disposition and want to see if it will be the case in their pregnancy. It is a rare test to have carried out. It is expensive and difficult to attain. The amendment is a ruse to try to deny women and pregnant people access to what is rightfully theirs following the May referendum.

The amendment also states: "... because of ... race". There is only one race, and that is the human race. Race is not determined by anything other than the fact that we are all human beings. After that, ethnicity is determined by the combinations of different genetic make-ups. It is shameful for anybody to try make out that race is a factor in this Bill because there is only one race. A parent might take that decision because conditions and disabilities could be detected. Is it not sad that they have to do that because they carry within the family the danger of genetic heredity factors that could limit the lives of their children?

This is a ruse. It is about trying to deny the reality that the people have voted to give women and pregnant people access to abortion without restriction up to 12 weeks. I am sorry, but it will not work. We have to vote against this amendment.


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