Dáil debates

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) (Foetal Pain Relief) Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]


10:32 am

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I am glad to be a co-sponsor of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) (Foetal Pain Relief) Bill 2021. I was never more devastated or disappointed than when I stood up, on behalf of our group, to table a motion here years ago seeking pain relief when we had failed in our efforts to protect the unborn child, as a last desperate attempt to ensure that they would not feel pain, and a vote was called. We subsequently lost that vote. I thought it was devastating, cold, hard and cruel beyond belief. We live in a society where animals are protected from pain. It is a requirement to administer pain relief to animals and make sure that they are not subjected to cruelty. We have many veterinarians in the countryside, in the parish that I am from, including great people such as Mike O'Sullivan, Brendan Teahan and Leslie Dignam. They are good vets who go around to take care of animals. We now have a situation where we are being denied the right to take care of little unborn babies to protect them from feeling pain.

I find it impossible to believe that the Government is not willing to accept this. It wants to deny that an unborn child is a person. I have always said in this Dáil, and it hurts many people when I say it, that from the moment of conception until the moment of death, a person is a human being. They are the future doctors, politicians and teachers.

They are the people who we want to nourish and who we want to help come into the world to live their lives and to be given the same opportunity as everyone one of us. I believe that in my heart and soul. If I was offered the size of this room in €100 notes, I would burn it to protect one unborn child because I believe in letting these young people come into the world and be given the same right as myself, the Minister or anyone else was.

A vote took place in this country. A decision was taken. We live in a democracy. We were entitled to our opinion at the time. Other people won the vote on that. We are not standing up here today looking to rewrite history or to rewrite that vote because we cannot do that. What we are trying to do is to help a small vulnerable person from feeling pain, and it is a person. It is a human being. That unborn child is a person. They are being denied the right to be born into the world but they are also being denied the right not to have to feel pain.

There are Members who will come in here tonight and be under the whip and vote in accordance with their parties, not with their conscience. I ask the Minister to be a man about this and to go back to the Government and say, "Right, let everybody come in here tonight and vote with a thing called their conscience." God gave us a conscience, but, of course, many Members in this Chamber do not believe in God either. As much dislike as they might have for many things, they dislike God. They hate him being referenced. They hate us being humble about it, blessing ourselves and having our manners about religion. People hate that. There are people who actually hate it. I do not mind talking about God. I do not mind saying that I think it is right that people should be able to come in here tonight and vote with their conscience, and vote for what they believe is right and what they believe is wrong.

How could any human being look me straight in the eye and say with any conviction and with any honesty in his heart and soul that it is wrong to want to stop a little person of feeling pain? Every one of us will have to die and how a person could face God after denying a person the right to pain relief is hard to understand. If I was under any one of their whips tonight, I would crack the whip back at them and I would vote with my conscience.

I plead with the many fine respectable Members who are in this House today - to hell with Fianna Fáil, to hell with Fine Gael, to hell with Sinn Féin, to hell with Labour and to hell with all of their whips - to come in here tonight and vote for what they believe to be right or what they believe to be wrong. On my knees, I would plead with them to come in and vote for the little person, the person who does not have a voice, the unborn little child, the man or woman of tomorrow who will not see tomorrow because he or she has been denied that right. At least, give them the right not to feel pain and hurt and the horribleness that an abortion actually is, and to anybody who would like to forget about it, an abortion is a horrible thing. The Government should offer more support to people who have crisis pregnancies and try to help them, but, for God's sake, should not deny us the right of our motion, which is very important.


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