Thursday, 29 November 2018
Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Report Stage (Resumed)
Yes. Regarding the provision of ultrasound, again this is another issue that is difficult to understand. The issue of abortion was dressed up by the Minister as a choice which was logical and beneficial and should be introduced into Irish law. All this amendment regarding ultrasound desires is that a choice is given to a mother whereby she would be able to look at the ultrasound if she wishes. It is a choice that also can be declined if the mother so wishes. There is no effort here to force anybody to see information that the person does not wish to see.
We know that informed choices are the best choices. I have met a large number of individuals who have suffered from abortion regret. It is one of the dirty little secrets that society does not wish to talk about, but a significant proportion of individuals suffer from abortion regret. Abortion regret is a very serious issue. People often suffer great pain and anguish for their entire lives as a result. The provision of information allows people to be able to make informed decisions. I have spoken to people who told me that they did not realise the heart was beating at such a young age or that the unborn child was so well formed at 12 weeks. They did not realise the decision they were making. Asking the person if she wishes to have this information would be the logical thing to do. Ultrasound is not a threatening device in any way. It is a medical device that is designed to help in healthcare. I cannot understand why that choice is not being afforded to people.
There is also great unease among doctors about this. They are being asked to provide abortions in many cases without the technology to enable them to understand the exact health situation of the mother and unborn child. There is significant worry and fear among doctors that if they do not have an ultrasound to make the necessary decision, first, they will not be doing the best for the mothers or the unborn children concerned and, second, they will put themselves in a very exposed situation because they will be making decisions without the best clinical diagnostic tools that are necessary. It is beyond comprehension. I had this debate with the Minister previously. He admitted that in many, if not most, cases where these decisions are made, an ultrasound will probably be necessary, although he also said that he did not yet have clear information from his advisers that it would be necessary. I am asking that this amendment be considered for the protection of the mothers, the unborn children and the doctors.