Thursday, 29 November 2018
Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Report Stage (Resumed)
We may talk about compassion. This evening we are talking about a baby who has just survived an abortion. It would be unbelievable if the Minister was to reject an amendment that does nothing to prevent access to an abortion but is all about saving lives. We cannot have a situation in Ireland where doctors in one part of the hospital are doing everything possible to save a premature baby born at say 23 weeks, while in another part of the same hospital a baby born at 24 weeks, after surviving an abortion, is left without life-saving care for whatever reason. This amendment is sought to give clarity and certainty to doctors on how to proceed when abortion does not result in the death of the baby.
It makes it clear that where there are indications of life like breathing, heartbeat, umbilical cord pulsation or a definite movement of the voluntary muscles there is a duty to act to save that life. Nothing can be more compassionate and clearer. This amendment will significantly assist doctors in carrying out their duties.
We must also be cognisant of the human rights abuse of children who survive an abortion and are left without care. This is not a theoretical problem as we have plenty of evidence of such cases in England, Canada, Wales and elsewhere, where babies born alive after botched abortions are left alone in hospitals to die without the care of medical staff. We cannot allow such human rights abuses to happen here. Abortion in Ireland will be legal up to six months into a pregnancy in some cases. We can only hope that the number of children who experience the cruel after-effects of failed abortion procedures will be few and far between. At the same time, however, we must ensure that they are cared for and that is what this amendment is all about, clarity and certainty for doctors.