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Mothers in cases of Fatal Foetal Abnormality deserve support, not stigma – O’Reilly

30 June, 2016 - by Louise O'Reilly TD


Sinn Féin TD and Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly has said that ‘many Irish women and their partners are informed each year that the foetuses which they are carrying are suffering from conditions which make the foetus incompatible with life’ and that we must ‘end the fear, the stigma, the taboo, the inadvertent shaming of these women and families’.

The Dublin Fingal TD said:

“Prior to discussing the Bill itself, the legal issues involved or the arguments that may come up against this Bill, we might pause for a moment to consider what a fatal foetal abnormality is.
It is important to do this, not least because we are discussing legislation on this issue, but because there is a serious lack of information about what exactly we are discussing.

“These fatal foetal abnormalities are not, as some of the emails I have received, would have us believe ‘babies with disabilities’. Down syndrome is not a fatal foetal abnormality. A cleft palate is not a fatal foetal abnormality.

“These are not what we are discussing and shame on those who would muddy the waters claiming so.

“The reality is that many Irish women and their partners are informed each year that the foetuses which they are carrying are suffering from conditions which make the foetus incompatible with life.

“Such an incompatibility can stem from a variety of medical conditions which can be diagnosed at various stages during the pregnancy. These are conditions that mean a foetus will not develop to be able to live outside the womb. Depending on the condition and individual circumstances, the foetus may die during pregnancy or may survive up until shortly after the birth.

“I feel this is an important issue to clarify too. Passing this legislation, enabling terminations in these circumstances does not mean that women are under any obligation to terminate their pregnancies

“What this legislation will do is give them one option to help them navigate one of the gravest, the most tragic and one of the most upsetting situations of their lives.

“Let’s end the fear, the stigma, the taboo, the inadvertent shaming of these women and families.

“We should support those mothers and their partners who choose to bring to term a child that has no chance of survival outside the womb for long if that is their choice. Equally, we must support those who do not. That is the point of this Bill.” 

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