Ref Watch noticed a couple of strange statements this week by the two Ministers who are leading the Fine Gael Yes campaign.
The Minister for Health Simon Harris told the Times (Ireland edition) that abortion up to birth would not be legal if the Eighth Amendment was repealed. He also claimed that once a pregnancy reaches viability (approximately 6 months) then it has to be delivered, not aborted.
Minister Josepha Madigan, the head of the Fine Gael Yes campaign, tweeted a graphic which says: “late term abortions and termination on the grounds of disabilities prohibited”
These are very strange statements, since the draft legislation published by the Government says nothing about either of these issues.
Under Head 7, the Bill allows abortion up to 12 weeks for any reason without any restriction. Therefore, abortion for reasons of disability will be entirely legal up to 12 weeks if this legislation is passed.
Head 4, which covers the health and mental health of the mother, doesn’t have any restriction in the cases of disability. And Head 6, which deals with fatal foetal abnormalities, which are disabilities, contains no term limit of any kind and allows terminations (defined in the Bill as “a medical procedure which is intended to end the life of the foetus”) for the full 9 months of pregnancy.
Nothing in the draft Bill places a restriction against abortion on the grounds of disability, and early delivery of the child is not mentioned at all. So why are Ministers Harris and Madigan saying that it does?
Are Fine Gael Ministers spreading clear misninformation about what’s in their own draft legislation about abortion for disabilities?