Wednesday, 28 March 2018
An Bille um an Séú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht 2018: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha - Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages
In the interests of moving this along, I will keep my comments very brief. I wish to associate myself with comments of Senators Bacik and Ruane. They made points I was going to make and so I will not repeat them. I also thank Senator McDowell for his very insightful and considered contribution. His contribution has played a vital part in moving along the debate in this House.
I have been through two pregnancies and even in the most ideal of circumstances the state of pregnancy can be difficult and stressful. One feels vulnerable and very lonely at times. It strikes me that when the vulnerability of the unborn is talked about, the vulnerability of the pregnant woman is often forgotten about.
I also make reference to the 12 year old child who travelled to the UK, as Senator Gavan mentioned. Some of the commentary on that has suggested that the ideal solution would have been for the 12 year old child to have proceeded with the pregnancy and given the baby up for adoption. No reference is ever made to the physical damage, leaving alone the psychological damage, that a pregnancy would do to a 12 year old child's body. That child is vulnerable. She did not become pregnant because she is in a good situation. Something awful and tragic happened to that child. We are proposing a solution to her that would leave her with permanent damage, compounding the damage that has already been done to her. I cannot stand here and stand over that and let plenty more children and women go through this. We need to look at the humanity of the pregnant woman and the vulnerability of the pregnant woman, and try our best to protect that.
Last night I spoke about the need for the Minister to provide extra lactation consultants and extra public health nurses to assist mothers and their newborn babies. I am sure the Minister is aware that we have a vast shortage of them. We have a severe lack of perinatal psychologists. I would love if Senator Mullen and more of our colleagues would join me in this call. Let us look after the children who are born in this country. There are some vulnerable women and some vulnerable children who have been born in this country, and the services are not available for them.