‘Outlaw’ abortion on disability grounds, say activists

‘Outlaw’ abortion on disability grounds, say activists Michael O'Dowd

A disability-activist group are calling on legislators to ensure that abortion on disability grounds is “outlawed” in Ireland, by making an amendment to the current abortion bill.

Disability Voices for Life, which represents more than 100 parents and people living with disabilities, have appealed to Simon Harris to amend the bill. Otherwise, they say “their 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.

Spokesperson of the group, Michael O’Dowd said: “Minister Simon Harris seems determined to reject any amendments to his bill, but we cannot and will not be silent on this issue,” adding that almost half all abortions on unborn babies with Down syndrome take place under 15 weeks gestation, and technology is rapidly advancing testing in this area.

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

“We need an amendment to Mr Harris’ proposal which specifically states that abortion on disability grounds will not be permitted because our communities, and our children’s communities, are being wiped out by abortion.”

The group will hold a press event at the Molesworth Street entrance to Dáil Éireann on October 4 at 11.30 am. They have written to the Health Minister Simon Harris seeking a meeting on their proposed amendment to the abortion bill which reads: “A procedure to terminate a pregnancy shall be unlawful if carried out solely on the ground that the foetus is diagnosed as having or is apprehended as having a disability.”

“We are simply asking our politicians, and the Irish people, to prevent this from happening in Ireland. We are asking you to protect our children’s communities. We have yet to hear one valid reason as to why the amendment we propose should not be included,” Mr O’Dowd said.