The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has refused to address the issue of babies born alive after abortion in Ireland, as revealed in a shocking new study from UCC which was published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Questions were submitted to Minister Donnelly on the issue by TDs including Peadar Tóibín of Aontú and Carol Nolan, the Independent TD for Laois Offaly.
“On foot of a report published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, detailing the brutal impact of late-term abortions on Irish doctors and of the plight of babies born alive after abortion, the Minister was asked whether he was aware of the report and whether he would make a statement on the matter, ” Peadar Tóibín asked.
In a response, Minister Donnelly indicated he wouldn’t be taking action on the issue, writing that “the purpose of the legislation is not to dictate the practice of obstetrics. Medical practitioners are bound through professional regulatory mechanisms to operate in accordance with best medical practice.”
However, the study found that doctors carrying out abortions were fustrated by conflict with neonatologists and were “unclear as to who will look after those babies’ if a baby was “born alive following an abortion by induction of labour and without feticide”.
This would leave the doctor who performed an unsuccessful late-term abortion “begging people to help” them provide palliative care if the baby survived, the study recorded.
“The best that the incumbent Minister charged with looking after the health and well-being of the Irish people could muster was that he was aware of the article to which we referred to in our question. So, the Minister is well aware of babies being born alive after surviving an abortion in Irish hospitals and possibly being denied care – but shall do nothing about it. The Minister then goes on to give a generic reference to not dictating to doctors and best practice. Surely, if a situation arises where a baby survives an abortion and medical professionals are unsure as to their duty of care – then that is the moment to clearly instruct doctors to save the child’s life, but the Minister disagrees,” said Deputy Tóibín.
“This is a report that has exposed the true face of abortion in Ireland. Doctors say they feel they are ‘stabbing babies in the heart; ’ they tell the study they are getting sick in the hallways of Irish hospitals after performing late-term abortion; babies surviving abortion, but still under threat, and a Minister who chooses to ignore the issue. Irish medical students are fearful as to whether they will be forced to participate in these horrific abortions.”
“This reality was all denied by Minister Donnelly’s predecessor, Simon Harris. It is time to remedy that error,” said the Aontú leader.
Deputy Tóibín said he was shocked by the Minister’s response to his parliamentary questions and his lack of concern for the child, mother and doctors being damaged by abortion practices in Ireland: “The Minister refused to even dignify the issue with a response, or to acknowledge the lives of children who have survived abortion but whose lives were still not safe. If this is the response of the Minister to late term abortions and born alive children, then I am very concerned as to what will be tabled and pushed when the abortion laws in Ireland are reviewed next year,” he said.
Carol Nolan, Independent TD for Laois Offaly, said that what was revealed by the report was “heartbreaking and horrifying,” and that Minister Donnelly needed to take action.
“People are absolutely horrified by what’s been revealed in this study and by the thought that babies would survive an abortion in Ireland and doctors would be left “begging” for help. The Minister absolutely must address this issue as a matter of urgency and his reply is completely unacceptable,” she said.
“I was one of a number of TDs who warned late-term abortions and babies born alive after abortion would be a reality if the then Minister Simon Harris did not accept amendments to the legislation. Now Minister Donnelly has an opportunity to right this wrong: he must act now to do so,” she said.
Independent TD Mattie McGrath said that the report was, perhaps unintentionally, a devastating expose of what was happening in late-term abortion in Ireland, and that the Minister could not be allowed to sweep the revelations under the carpet.