Thursday, 29 November 2018
Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Report Stage (Resumed)
The Minister said on Committee Stage that he did not need to put anything into this Bill to ensure that doctors would give care to infants born alive as a result of a failed abortion because our doctors know how to care for the infants. However, the Minister seems to have forgotten that in this case the doctor was likely to be the doctor who had been tasked with ending the baby's life, therefore surely the Minister can appreciate that there may be a conflict as to what he or she should do at this point. The doctor was asked to end that baby's life and now the baby is born alive, possibly unwanted by their mother. This is not as cut and dried as the Minister likes to suggest.
During the abortion debate I spent time speaking to everybody. People would not have the same views as me but I have to respect their views. As late as two weeks ago I had a lengthy debate in my constituency office with a person who would not agree with my views but we both shook hands when it was finished and we accepted that we were each entitled to our views. I did listen with interest because I educated myself along this road. There is a lot of discussion about the Canadian lady. Did the Minister meet her? Did he spend a little bit of time with her? He has met with so many people who approve of his Bill and on Committee Stage he said something along the lines that he would meet and discuss with people who want to progress this Bill. There was no harm in meeting and listening to the other side of the story. It was an astonishing story. I will not go into the details because others have done that. There are others out there who have met different individuals. She had an extraordinary story to tell. She was an abortion that went wrong but she lived thanks to the nurse who saved her. The one good point about all of this is that she and her mother are now inseparable. That is the message for the whole of this island: sometimes abortion is not the answer; sometimes there is another answer. That lady got that little twinkle of light and that little chance to live and she and her mother are inseparable now. They have a great relationship. I can see Deputy O'Connell behind the Minister nodding away mad against what I am saying but that is because she probably did not meet this lady either and hear the other side of the story. It is necessary to talk to people, whether one agrees with them or not. It is good to listen. That is something the Minister does not want to do but that is his prerogative.
I think we all, including the Minister, agree with the principle that if an infant is born alive during a failed abortion procedure they would be guaranteed to be given the same medical care that a premature baby of that same gestation would be given. Why then can we not enshrine this principle in our legislation to ensure that no doctor will have any conflict in the area?
It is reported that in the UK 66 babies were left to die in one year with no care after being born alive during failed medical procedures. That is incredible. Unfortunately, that is the road we are now travelling. The Minister has an opportunity to turn that around and change that and at least have something enshrined in the Bill that protects the child that was born after an abortion. I hope that the Minister might give more careful and considered time to accepting this amendment. Like all the amendments we have put forward, we are fair and honest and we spent time putting them together to make sure that we did not flood the whole Bill with amendments that would not reflect the feelings of the public. This is one that does reflect those feelings and I would appreciate if the Minister gave time to considering support for this amendment.