Concerned parents call for protection for unborn babies with disabilities

Concerned parents call for protection for unborn babies with disabilities

By Louise Roseingrave

Unborn babies with disabilities are in the ‘firing line’ of proposed abortion legislation, according to a group of concerned parents.

The Disability Voices for Life group held a protest outside the Dail calling for a clause to outlaw abortion on disability grounds.

“We are parents of children with disabilities, or people living with a disability, and we are asking for an amendment to the abortion bill to ensure that abortion on disability grounds is outlawed in Ireland,” spokesperson Michael O’Dowd said.

Newly appointed advisor to the HSE for the implementation of abortion legislation Dr Peter Boylan claimed during the referendum campaign that there would be protections for the unborn on disability grounds included in the legislation.

Dr Boylan made these claims in a Liveline interview on May 9.

Mr O'Dowd said the appointment of Dr Boylan, who campaigned to repeal the 8th amendment 'was not comforting' to them.

The group further claimed that Health Minister Simon Harris has declined to meet them and is not listening to their concerns.

“Without protection, our communities will be wiped out by the same abortion rates that have led to 98% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome being aborted in Denmark.

“It is a terrible situation where terminations are targeted at those who potentially have a trait society doesn’t like,” Mr O’Dowd said.

It is a culture based on prejudice and lack of knowledge of the positive traits a person with Down syndrome brings to a family and a community.

He was among a group of 22 people, who travelled from as far away as Donegal and Cork who attended an event outside the Dail calling for an amendment to the Bill banning abortion on disability grounds.

“A disability can now be detected using Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing at 10 weeks according to the National Maternity Hospital,” Mr O’Dowd said.

“In this scenario, Down syndrome is in the firing line. Research in the US show an increasing number of parents aborting at this stage without getting a confirming diagnosis.

“We were promised during the campaign that abortions would not be allowed on the basis of disability but in the absence of a clause outlawing it in the proposed legislation such statements are meaningless,” he said.

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