A woman in Ireland claims that Coombe Hospital in Dublin refused to abort her preborn baby following an ultrasound showing her child has a potentially life-limiting condition, and she plans to travel to the UK for an abortion. In the Dáil, Ireland’s parliament, two TDs said they were contacted by the woman who claimed the hospital board intervened to stop the abortion, something the hospital has denied. According to reports, the woman was told in a meeting with hospital representatives that her pregnancy “doesn’t fall neatly into a fatal foetal abnormality” diagnosis, despite the doctors initially saying “the baby wouldn’t survive.”
The case demonstrates the arbitrary and discriminatory nature of exceptions that allow for abortions of babies with disabilities. How babies with disabilities will fare after birth is very hard to predict. More importantly, however long or short a person’s life is, a disability does not diminish his or her humanity. Violently ending the life of a child because he or she has a disability is unjust, even if it is motivated by a desire to prevent the child from suffering. Abortion does not prevent suffering; abortion takes a human life.
According to the Irish Examiner, the woman was told at an ultrasound at 13 weeks pregnant that her baby suffered from a fatal fetal abnormality. A second doctor allegedly confirmed this diagnosis at an ultrasound a week later. According to the Irish Examiner, “the developing organs of the foetus, including the heart, were in the wrong position.”
Pro-abortion government officials have condemned the hospital, saying “hospitals in Ireland have an obligation to make decisions in a way that is consistent with that new legislation [on abortion].” Sources close to the woman say she plans to travel to the United Kingdom to undergo an abortion. Under Ireland’s new abortion law, abortion is allowed for any reason, including on the basis of sex discrimination, up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks in cases in which the baby is diagnosed with a fatal fetal abnormality, which according to the law, means a condition that would lead to the child’s demise within 28 days of birth. Two doctors must certify that the baby would, in fact, die within 28 days of birth.
Between 13 and 24 weeks’ gestation, the most common abortion procedure involves violently dismembering the baby while his or her heart is still beating:
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