Independent Senator Ronan Mullen and Socialist Party TD Clare Daly speaking with David McCullagh, on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night
On Monday, following a challenge by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the Northern Ireland High Court ruled that the North’s abortion law is ‘incompatible with human rights’.
Judge Mr Justice Mark Horner told the court in Belfast that, ‘In the case of a fatal foetal abnormality there is no life to protect’.
Further to this, two Senators criticised the ruling yesterday – Ronan Mullen, on RTÉ’s Prime Time and Paul Bradford, in the Seanad.
From Prime Time…
Senator Ronan Mullen: “I think there are political classes that get a big hearing in the media whenever there’s a development. But what we’re not hearing, for example, and I think this is the sad thing about the judge’s decision up North is that he appeared to be ignorant of the biology. I mean it was really quite chilling the language of ‘there is no life to protect’. I know, and I have brought families in Leinster House who would be deeply hurt by that because they think there’s a perception that babies and that case are either dead already or are in some kind of pain. I know a family, for example, where there baby lived for 17 minutes; they cherished every minute; they made memories; and they were terrified.”
David McCullagh: “That was their choice.”
Mullen: “But it’s more than just a choice because they believe that why should the law say that their child matters less than any other disabled child. And they believe that if you take away legal and social protection for those children, that families like those don’t have a future. There’s no talk about perinatal hospices, the supports that we need so much.”
Claire Daly TD: “The scenario outlined by Ronan, the very sad case of a much wanted pregnancy, which only lasted for 17 minutes, I think anybody watching the programme, their hearts would go out to those people and they would hope that that was the best decision for that family. And nobody is altering that decision. What we’re talking about is providing for the other families who can’t go through…”
Mullen: “Let me tell you about another little child who I know, personally, called Louise. Her mother was told that the child would not survive and now the child is six, enjoys ballet and so on. The truth is that doctors can never be sure how long a child is going to live for. You can generally say not very long in some cases but even there, there can be surprises…”
Mullen: “If you can say that you can take away that child’s life because that child is severely…”
Daly: “Sorry, sorry, David, this is going to be incredibly distressing for…”
Mullen: “How is that fair? No, we all have to be caring for everybody.”
McCullagh: “Finish your point, finish your point, Ronan, please.”
Mullen: “I think it’s fair that we would have, that families that get that distressing news, for example, would not have to sit in maternity wards or info meetings with families who have a healthy baby. We haven’t begun to talk about how we could support those families…”
Watch Prime Time in full here
“Language is not only powerful; it is a very strong weapon. When we say the easy phrase, “fatal foetal abnormality,” we are talking about babies who have a life-limiting or life-threatening condition. They are human beings. At least one grouping representing parents who had such babies, who might have lived for a day, a week or a month, attempted to make their views known to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children two years ago but were not allowed to do so. We need to be sensitive.”
“There are no such babies as babies with fatal foetal abnormalities. There are babies with serious, profound, life-threatening and life-limiting conditions, but they are still human beings.”
Renua Senator Paul Bradford in the Seanad yesterday…
Previously: ‘Incompatible With Human Rights’