Thursday, 13 December 2018
Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Report and Final Stages
I certainly did not mean to suggest that the guidelines in question are not based in statute. The Minister will recall that I went into detail on Committee Stage about the provisions of section 23 of the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997 and the consent guidelines. My point has been that we are in a new situation here. We are in a situation where the direct and intentional taking of innocent life is contemplated. This is such a life-changing event, a life-ending event for the unborn child and potentially a life-changing event for the young mother in question, that it is not enough to rely on the porous provisions of section 23 of the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997 and the consent guidelines. I went through the exceptionality, if the Minister will accept my use of the word, of all of that on Committee Stage. Nothing the Minister has just said is news to me, nor is the situation I am outlining covered by the existing statutory and guideline-based apparatus.
I repeat, it is a matter of justice and child welfare, not just the welfare of the unborn child but the welfare of the young mother in question, that parents must be notified. The law should specifically require it in the very new situation of abortion being legal in our country while allowing for the necessary exception where the child's welfare would not be served by the parents being notified, which the court could determine accordingly. I will be pressing this amendment.