Maternity Master Wants Unlimited Abortion for Disability
Professor Fergal Malone, Master of the Rotunda maternity hospital in Dublin has told the Oireachtas abortion committee that abortion should be legalised in Ireland for disabled babies, without any time limit.
While he prefaced his remarks to the committee by saying that he did not want to be perceived as either pro-choice or pro-life, and wished to keep his personal opinions private, Prof Malone went on to recommend a change to the law that would allow abortion for any foetal abnormality, subject to the judgement of the mother and her doctor.
Speaking of parents who have abortions because the baby has a non-fatal disability, Prof Malone said their “care journey is poorly developed and is associated with similar challenges as seen with fatal fetal abnormalities.”
Treating “fatal” and non-fatal “complex” abnormalities together, Prof Malone said that the existing law in Ireland prevents obstetricians referring patients for “care” and prevents them from accessing “timely care”. By “care”, he clearly means abortion. He also spoke of a “lack of fairness” in the fact that those wishing to have abortions must travel abroad for the purpose.
In his recommendations to the committee, Prof Malone urged them to consider legalising abortion for foetal abnormality, without limit as to the specific diagnosis or to the gestational age. In other words, he suggests permitting abortion for any foetal disability, potentially at any time up to birth.
With regard to possible time limits, he said, “In Ireland, we would not foresee a situation in which a pregnancy termination is performed at, for example, 30 or 36 weeks’ gestation. Instead, if a pregnancy at 30 or 36 weeks’ gestation needs to be ended, the procedure would be either an induction of labour or a caesarean section, and not a pregnancy termination. Appropriate care would always be provided to the newborn in all such cases. However, we do not believe that it would be appropriate to specify a precise gestational age limit in weeks beyond which a pregnancy termination would be illegal.”
Oireachtas Éireann. October 11. Family & Life. October 27.