Parents of Severely Disabled Babies: Quit Using the Term “Incompatible With Life”

International   |   Cora Sherlock   |   Dec 1, 2014   |   2:33PM   |   Dublin, Ireland

Members of a disability support group have launched a campaign to ask members of the legal, media and medical professions to dispense with the term “incompatible with life when describing unborn babies suffering from a life-shortening illness.

The “Every Life Counts” group members made the request in Dublin at the launch of their campaign called “Compatible With Life, Compatible With Love”.

clodaghThey spoke about how their own experiences with disabled family members have made them realise that everyone has something to contribute and everyone’s life has worth.

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At the same time, Mattie McGrath, an independent member of the Irish Parliament has said that he intends to make a submission for the use of the term “incompatible with life” to be designated as an offence under the Disability Act.

McGrath’s own grand-daughter was born prematurely and he witnessed the extreme efforts of members of the medical profession who do all they can to assist such vulnerable babies.  Speaking at the launch, he said that his current plan is a logical extension of the Disability Act and one which is intended to include the unborn, and is particularly relevant as the Disability Act precludes terminology and references to people with disabilities.

clodagh08Members of the group hope that the use of this derogatory term will soon be considered as unacceptable as words like “retarded” and “illegitimate”.  In the past, such words were used but they have no place in a compassionate society.

For pro-life advocates in Ireland, this amendment to the Disability Act would make a big difference. The use of the term “incompatible with life” has a very detrimental effect on the campaign to protect the right to life of babies diagnosed with life-limiting conditions. Instead of encouraging an environment where these babies are recognised as seriously ill members of society, they are de-humanised through this term and their families suffer hurt and insult at a time when they need support and compassion.

It is also to be hoped that this campaign will work towards the ongoing struggle to secure proper perinatal hospice facilities for families in this situation in Ireland – something which has been overlooked at present.