Seanad debates

Monday, 10 December 2018

Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Committee Stage (Resumed)


2:00 pm

Photo of Alice-Mary HigginsAlice-Mary Higgins (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I am just pointing out that amendment No. 20 relates to the section on conditions likely to lead to the death of a foetus. These are situations in which persons may be receiving news in a very short space of time and may receive it twice in a very short time. While the Minister has emphasised the relationship between the obstetrician and the woman in question, that might not be the most important relationship.There would be situations, for example, where a partner will need to be informed. There would be situations in which family members will need to be discussed. There is, of course, the element that the point of certification where the recognition of the situation meeting the bar that is set here may happen at one point. It may be, however, that women find themselves going over a night or two or perhaps needing to speak to their partner on what will be a difficult decision. It is probable, if we are looking to the person who is pregnant in this regard, that there will be a need in many cases to have flexibility such as is set out.

I understand the Minister is speaking about having started the procedure and that seems quite close to the "make such arrangements" provision. In that regard, the phrase "carrying out" is not ideal in that it is not so clear. However, there is a concern that persons who are dealing with a very difficult situation should not feel that they are ending up being rushed in to ensure they can avail of the same window with the same obstetrician and do not have to restart the process, recertify and get the bad news again another two times before they can proceed. In these situations, one already has got two opinions but it is clear in section 11 that there may only be one obstetrician. Therefore, there may effectively be only one person who can carry it out. The pregnant person is dependent on the presence of one medical practitioner in that regard. It is a situation where nobody should feel rushed. While the Minister can be in tune with the spirit of what he is trying to do, I urge him, in terms of section 11, to give serious consideration to amendment No. 20 or some clarification in that regard.


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