Conditions which are ‘incompatible with life’ can be legislated for within existing constitutional framework

At a press conference this morning, convened by Deputies Richard Boyd Barrett and John Halligan, at the request of the TFMR (Terminations for Medical Reasons) the details were announced of an amendment to The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013. The deadline for amendments for the committee stage of the bill was today at 11am.

The amendment (attached) seeks to allow for terminations in cases where a foetus is diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality.

A number of TDs have agreed to support the amendment which was drafted by the TFMR group with advice from legal experts.

Speakers at the press conference included; Sarah McGuinness, TFMR, James Burke TFMR, Jennifer Schweppe, Law lecturer, University of Limerick, Richard Boyd Barrett, John Halligan, Clare Daly and Patrick Nulty.

All TDs and Oireachtas members were invited to attend the press conference.

rbbRichard Boyd Barrett TD said “There is no excuse for the exclusion of fatal foetal abnormalities from this bill. There is no good reason why this legislation should not contain the right for women to terminate their pregnancy when they receive a devastating ‘incompatible with life” diagnosis.

It is utterly appalling that women who have to endure that heartbreak, also face the stigma that the treatment they were forced to seek abroad is a criminal offence in this country. I call on all TDs who support these women to support the amendment.”

John Halligan TD said, “Around 1,500 cases of fatal foetal abnormality are diagnosed in Ireland every year. That’s just over 4 women every day. Of these cases, 80% of the women involved travel abroad for a termination. These women are already facing one of the most difficult and harrowing decisions any person will ever make, a decision that will not be taken lightly. By not legislating for this situation – by not providing the legal and medical framework needed – we are forcing traumatised parents who want to terminate a pregnancy under these tragic circumstances to leave their homes, leave their countries, without care or advice, at a time when they should be surrounded by their loved ones. It is barbaric”.

Clare Daly TD said, “I support the TFMR group and the legal arguments that have been made and I support the amendment that would include fatal foetal abnormality in the bill. It is an absolute disgrace that women and their families who find themselves in this terrible and heart-breaking situation should have to travel abroad for a medical procedure that could and should be available here”.

Patrick Nulty TD said, “The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill should be amended to take account of the very difficult circumstances families encounter when they find themselves with a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality. It is absolutely appropriate and right that a woman be entitled to a termination in these circumstances and it is up the Oireachtas to reflect on the bill and ensure that an opportunity to assist these families at the most difficult time of their lives is availed of in this legislation”.