Thursday, 29 November 2018
Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Report Stage (Resumed)
During the referendum campaign, the Minister and the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Madigan, both appeared to agree with a prohibition on abortion on grounds of disability. The Minister for Health said that disability, including Down's syndrome, would be excluded as a grounds for abortion in any legislation. However, there is absolutely nothing in the Government's Bill to rule out abortion on these grounds. He told the Irish Independenton 24 May, the day before the referendum, that the Government would specifically exclude disability as grounds for abortion in the legislation. He also told the Irish Independenton 1 February that if the electorate voted to repeal the eighth amendment in a referendum that the proposed legislation would not include grounds for disability such as Down's syndrome but would be confined to cases of fatal foetal abnormality where the unborn baby would not live. During the campaign, the Minister, Deputy Madigan, shared a graphic produced by Fine Gael Head Office on Twitter which explained the Government's abortion proposal. This said that termination on grounds of disability was prohibited. I ask the Minister to say whether both statements were totally false as there was no provision in the Bill to prohibit abortion on the grounds of disability. Why did the Minister not include a clear provision to put that into effect in legislation?
As I said yesterday, the Minister is wrong. He made a statement today that the Chief Medical Officer has given him advice that he can amend it. Did he ask the Chief Medical Officer before he put these statements in the newspaper telling the people of Ireland that disability would not be allowed as a ground? What is he telling me now? One week he talks to the Chief Medical Officer and the other week he just goes away and does his own thing. Did he or did he not ask the Chief Medical Officer's advice before he made these statements instead of leading the Irish people wrong? He is the Minister for Health. He is responsible for these people in Ireland. He has given false statements. He is totally and utterly wrong. He is trying to blame the Chief Medical Officer for what is happening.