Ireland’s opposition leader wants to liberalise abortion law


Ireland's opposition leader wants to liberalise abortion law
Micheál Martin stuns sections of Fianna Fáil party by changing his mind over the contentious issue

Henry McDonald Ireland correspondent
Sun 11 Feb 2018

Ireland’s opposition leader has revealed he changed his mind in favour of liberalising the Republic’s strict anti-abortion laws after meeting women forced to travel to Britain to end their pregnancies after learning they had no hope their babies would be born alive.

Micheál Martin has stunned conservative sections of his Fianna Fáil party by backing the repeal of the eighth amendment to the Irish Republic’s constitution, which prohibits abortion, in a nationwide referendum in May.


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Ireland: Questions and Answers: Key abortion issues


Questions and Answers: Key abortion issues
A number of medical issues will arise if there is a policy of termination of pregnancy on request

Jan 30, 2018
Muiris Houston

As we move towards a date for a referendum on a repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution and the possible implementation of a policy of termination of pregnancy on request, a number of medical and health system issues will arise. They include the availability of prenatal ultrasound scans and the effect new regulations may have on pregnancies where there is a foetal chromosomal abnormality.


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Ireland: Experts challenged at Eighth Amendment committee over Dutch abortion laws


Experts challenged at Eighth Amendment committee over Dutch abortion laws
Updated / Thursday, 23 Nov 2017

The number of babies born with Down Syndrome in the Netherlands has not decreased with the introduction of prenatal screening, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

That is according to Eva Pajkrt, a Professor of Obstetrics at the University of Amsterdam, who is before the Oireachtas Eighth Amendment Committee.

She was addressing concerns expressed by Fine Gael TD Peter Fitzpatrick that screening would result in fewer babies with Down Syndrome being born.

Continued at source:

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New Zealand: Down’s syndrome advocacy group condemn Jacinda Arden


Down’s syndrome advocacy group condemn Jacinda Arden
Wednesday, 6 September 2017
Press Release: Saving Downs

[Scoop note: Jacinda Ardern has responded to this, saying abortions up to 40 weeks would not be made legal under Labour]

Down’s syndrome advocacy group condemn Jacinda Arden’s pledge to introduce abortion up to birth for disabilities

Down’s syndrome advocacy group Saving Downs have condemned a pledge from Labour leader Jacinda Arden to decriminalise abortion, introducing abortion right through to birth for disabilities.

Under the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act there is currently a gestational time limit of 20-weeks for abortion for disability.

Continued at source: ttp://

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Ending a Pregnancy Because of Down Syndrome Is Not a Precursor to Eugenics


Ending a Pregnancy Because of Down Syndrome Is Not a Precursor to Eugenics

By Jen Gann
Aug 21, 2017

Over the weekend, Quartz published a post about the prevalence of Down syndrome in Iceland. Drawing statistics from a recent CBS report, Bonnie Rochman, author of The Gene Machine, writes, “In Iceland, nearly every woman who undergoes prenatal testing and whose fetus receives a diagnosis of Down syndrome decides to end her pregnancy.”

Note the word “decides.” No one is forcing women in Iceland to choose abortions — individual women are making those decisions. From this statement of fact, Rochman makes a shaky leap: “In essence, pregnant women in Iceland — and presumably their partners — are saying that life with disability is not worth living.”

Continued at source: The Cut:

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Iceland: “What kind of society do you want to live in?”: Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing


"What kind of society do you want to live in?": Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing

By Julian Quinones, Arijeta Lajka, CBS News
Aug 14, 2017

With the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe and the United States, the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased, but few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.

Since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000s, the vast majority of women -- close to 100 percent -- who received a positive test for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy.

Continued at source: CBS News:

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India: SC denies abortion nod to woman with Down Syndrome foetus


SC denies abortion nod to woman with Down Syndrome foetus
New Delhi February 28, 2017 12:48 IST

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to allow a woman, who is in her 26th week of pregnancy, to abort her foetus on the ground that it suffered from Down syndrome, saying “we have a life in our hands.”

The apex court said that as per a report of the medical board constituted to examine the 37-year-old woman, there was no physical risk to the mother in continuation of pregnancy.

Continued at source: The Hindu:

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Ireland: Citizens’ Assembly hears neo-natal screening poses ethical issues


40 Irish women had abortions after tests showed baby would have Down Syndrome, meeting told
Jan 7, 2016
by Ronan McGreevy, Irish Times

New neo-natal screenings which can detect chromosomal disorders such as Down Syndrome pose ethical issues for society, the Citizens’ Assembly has been told.

The Citizens’ Assembly is meeting in Malahide this weekend to discuss possible changes to the law on abortion.

The members are hearing from experts on the medical, legal and ethical issues raised by fatal and other foetal abnormalities and how they relate to the human rights of women and the current constitutional protection of the unborn.

[continued at link]
Source: Irish Times

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UK: How a newspaper can help to misrepresent expert views


by Safe Abortion, Nov 11, 2016

In a 30 October 2016 article pretending to be a news report, a UK newspaper reported that the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG) had been accused of calling for abortion of all fetuses diagnosed with Down’s syndrome antenatally because, according to their headline, “it costs too much to care for them”. This is not the RCOG’s position. But the newspaper got itself a juicy story and made the RCOG, who never said any such thing, look like a villian. The newspaper wrote: “The row erupted following a consultation over a new, more accurate prenatal blood test for Down’s [syndrome] that the [UK] National Health Service is expected to approve.”

Here is some history: In 2009, the RCOG published a statement regarding the effects of the changes in maternal age [in the UK] and advances in screening on the incidence of live births with Down’s syndrome and on the number of antenatal diagnoses”. The statement supported “increased access to non-invasive testing to improve antenatal screening for Down’s syndrome” in line with the UK National Screening Committee’s own policy, in place since 2001.

The crux of their statement was: Antenatal screening for Down’s syndrome provides important information for pregnant women and their families. The RCOG fully supports women’s informed choice in relation to antenatal screening, regardless of how they choose to proceed. Quality information and counselling are also important prior to antenatal screening and related interventions, in order to prepare women for possible results, explain options, and enable families to access support when required.”

As seemed likely in 2009, the new antenatal screening test for Down’s syndrome is now ready for use, and was recently approved by the UK government. However, a recent BBC2 TV programme by the actress Sally Phillips, called “A World Without Down’s Syndrome?”, expressed the fear that this new test would lead to an increase in terminations for Down’s syndrome. She defended the right of children with Down’s to be born and so perceived the new test as causing a negative outcome.

Offering a different perspective, obstetrician-gynaecologist Brenda Kelly defended the new test as much more accurate than existing screening tests – over 99 out of 100 pregnancies with a Down’s syndrome baby will be picked up earlier in pregnancy, and there is no risk of miscarriage with the test, as there is with previously existing tests – amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling. With the new test, far fewer women will need to undergo one of these more invasive tests later in pregnancy, which in turn means less risk of miscarriage due to these tests, as well as less uncertainty about the accuracy of the results for the woman/couple. Perhaps there will be more cases of Down’s syndrome picked up, she said, and perhaps more terminations. But women who don’t want testing need not have it, and those who are tested and learn that the baby will have Down’s need not decide for abortion. In essence, this is what the RCOG says too.

The RCOG’s concern was that if the government refused to approve the use of the new test in the National Health Service, it would be because of its cost. Instead of simply arguing that cost should be no object because of the value of the new test, they argued that if cost was an issue, a different kind of cost analysis should be done that took into account not only the cost of the test itself but also the costs to the state of caring for children and adults with Down’s syndrome. This led to a storm of protest because it was mis-taken to mean that the cost of caring for children and adults with Down’s was too high, with the implication that abortion was the only solution following a diagnosis of Down’s. The newspaper capitalised on the misinterpretation of the RCOG’s point and used inflammatory language (the headline read: “Doctors’ anger over medical body’s call to ‘abort Down’s babies’ because it costs too much to care for them”) for the scandal value, and managed to get a few jabs in against abortion as well.

SOURCES: Daily Mail, by Jonathan Petre, 30 October 2016 ; inews, by Dr Brenda Kelly, 5 October 2016 ; Letter to the RCOG, undated

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

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Abortion and disability: it’s all about who decides


Ann Furedi, CEO, BPAS

The only moral code we need on abortion is this: trust women.

7 October 2016

Future NHS availability of non-invasive pregnancy testing (NIPT) for Down’s syndrome is certain to reduce the number of women who have invasive diagnostic testing. Everyone agrees this is good news because more women will have information about their pregnancy at an earlier stage, and fewer women will be subjected to the small but significant risks associated with amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling.

The introduction of NIPT will probably reduce the number of children born with Down’s syndrome, since more women are likely to opt for the test and, if the condition is identified, more women may avail themselves of the earlier abortion. Not everyone agrees this is good news. But why not?

[continued at link]
Source: Spiked

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