Renewed call for late-term abortion ban in Ireland

The leader of the Irish political party Aontú has called for a ban on late term abortion in Ireland following the publication of a new study revealing that babies born alive after botched abortions were left to die.

In a statement on Thursday, Peadar Tóibín called on the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, to research the psychological damage and consequences on medical staff of late term abortions in Ireland.

The new study, Foetal medicine specialist experiences of providing a new service of termination of pregnancy for fatal foetal anomaly: a qualitative study, is published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and was conducted by researchers in University College Cork.

It is based on a series of interviews with ten foetal medicine specialists from five of the six foetal medicine units carrying out abortions in Ireland.

The research confirms that under Ireland’s new abortion law unborn babies are sometimes born alive after botched abortions and left to die.

Some of the doctors performing the abortions talked about the “internal conflict” they experienced and how ending the lives of unborn babies could be “brutal”, “awful” and “emotionally difficult”.

The study quotes one doctor referring to what they do as “stabbing the baby in the heart”. Another doctor interviewed for the study said: “I remember getting sick out in the corridors afterwards because I thought it (feticide) was such an awful procedure and so dreadful.”

The ten doctors interviewed by the study’s researchers were involved in performing abortions on babies with a fatal foetal anomaly (FFA). The doctors expressed their fears of getting an FFA diagnosis incorrect because of media scrutiny and criminal liability associated with FFA legislation.

Last January the first official figures were published by the Department of Health since Ireland new abortion laws came into effect in January 2019. They showed that 6,666 abortions were carried out last year under the new legislation enacted following the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

The vast majority of these abortions, 6,542, were carried out in the first 12-weeks. A further 100 abortions were carried out due to a condition that was likely to lead to the death of the foetus.

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