As the Irish government prepares for a referendum on whether to repeal the pro-life 8th Amendment, parents of children with disabilities are demanding the right to be included in the debate.
On Monday evening, the Irish government approved a referendum bill to repeal the Eighth Amendment and allow Oireachtas, the Irish Parliament, to legislate abortion. The vote will occur by the end of May, according to the Irish Examiner.
SPUC reports the Oireachtas Committee recommended subsequent legislation that allows abortion up to 12 weeks for any reason, and past 12 weeks if the baby is diagnosed with a terminal condition or if the mother’s health is jeopardized.
Ireland is under intense pressure to repeal its Eighth Amendment, which protects unborn babies’ right to life. Abortion activists, backed by some of the world’s richest men, have been pushing the pro-life country to legalize abortion on demand for years.
Health Minister Simon Harris, the main author of the draft legislation, attempted to direct the discussion away from babies with non-fatal disabilities, according to The Times’ report. Harris considered it out of the question that the state would allow abortions simply for non-fatal disabilities.
As such, he “warned” pro-life campaigners not to frame the debate around abortions of children with disabilities. SPUC reports he considers the suggestion that a woman would seek abortion simply because of a fetal disability “offensive.”
However, Ireland’s pro-life community understands that children with disabilities are in danger of discrimination if the 8th Amendment is repealed.
“This is an extreme proposal that places the rights of the unborn in the hands of fickle and poll-driven politicians…” said Save the 8th Campaign Spokeswoman Niamh Ui Bhrian. “If this proposal is passed, we will never be given a say over the rights of the unborn again, because politicians will have nobody to answer to except an avowedly pro-abortion media.”
The Irish Examiner reports the concerns of Irish pro-lifer Anne Trainer, whose 11-year-old son has Down Syndrome. She said children like her son are “being wiped off the face of the Earth with abortion,” and Ireland should not be part of this eugenic trend.
“90% of children who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome in England are aborted, 98% in Denmark, and 100% in Iceland,” Trainer said. “If we have an abortion regime in Ireland, we’re likely to follow the same path. And it’s scary. I love my son so much. I don’t want him growing up in a world where people think that’s he’s not good enough to be born.”
The Save the 8th Campaign launched their Reality of Repeal billboard campaign Tuesday to broadcast the concerns of parents like Trainer. The Irish Times showed one billboard featuring a picture of Joseph Cronin, a young boy with Down Syndrome, next to the slogan, “In Britain, 90% of babies with Down Syndrome are aborted. Don’t let that happen here.”
Conor O’Dowd, a 23-year-old man with Down Syndrome, and his father Michael, a member of Down Syndrome Ireland and Disability Voices for Life, are two other supporters of the billboard launch.
Already disapproval has been expressed over this billboard launch. One board was vandalized Wednesday in Kilmeaden, Co. Waterford, Ireland, prompting a flurry of discussion on Twitter.
All over Ireland, voters are being warned that repealing the 8th Amendment will leave babies with disabilities vulnerable. Despite the “warnings,” parents of children with disabilities determine to have their voices heard.
LifeNews Note: File photo.