Today, Deputies Mattie McGrath and Michael Lowry stated their support for proposed amendments to the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 which, if adopted, could cause real harm to all pregnant people in Tipperary and Ireland. Jackie Cahill also indicated he would support similar amendments in a recent letter to a constituent.
Mandatory ultrasounds, compulsory burial or cremation of fetal remains, and forcing doctors to prioritise the fetus above the pregnant person are inhumane provisions to include in future legislation.
We voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Please take time to contact Tipperary TDs today to ensure they know that we will accept nothing less than compassionate and evidence-based care. Feel free to use the template below.
I am a Tipperary constituent who voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment on May 25th. I am writing to express my concern at your support for amendments to the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 which seem to be designed solely to make abortion more difficult to access rather than for any concern for the well-being of pregnant people.
The first area of concern is your amendment that would make it a criminal offence for a woman to not arrange cremation or burial of fetal remains after an abortion. This proposal shows scant knowledge of the reality of miscarriage or abortion and is based on an inaccurate assumption that early abortion will result in remains to be buried. In most cases, what is passed during an early abortion is indistinguishable from the clots passed during a very heavy period. Under the current regime, women who miscarry at the same stage are not required to make such arrangements; indeed, it is impossible as remains often cannot be identified or salvaged. It is medically impossible to distinguish between an early miscarriage and an early abortion; are you comfortable that this measure risks criminalising those experiencing the loss of a wanted pregnancy?
Your proposed amendment to make it a legal requirement for a doctor to offer the pregnant person an ultrasound seems a deliberate barrier to access for Tipperary women. We have some of the poorest rates of access to scans during maternity care in the country. Dating scans are usually only available after 13 weeks on a first pregnancy and often not until 20 weeks – if at all – on subsequent pregnancies. It seems particularly cynical for you to only concern yourself with ultrasounds in order to prevent abortion rather than advocating for better maternity provisions for Tipperary women who wish to continue their pregnancies.
In terms of informed consent, doctors are already required to explain how medications or procedures work, their outcomes and their risks.
Your proposal to describe fetal pain to a family who are dealing with a diagnosis of fatal fetal abnormality or a risk to the woman’s life or health seems unnecessarily cruel. These are much wanted pregnancies. Forcing the health professional and the family to focus on fetal pain rather than maternal well-being in situations of grief or distress is inhumane.
If adopted as legislation, these measures have the potential to cause material harm and psychological and emotional distress to Tipperary women who need to terminate pregnancies. They could retraumatise survivors of rape, endanger those who require urgent care due to risk to life or health, and they could criminalise women experiencing early miscarriage.
As you are aware, Tipperary voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Eighth Amendment in a clear statement that the time for punishing and criminalising women for accessing basic healthcare has passed. Your support for these amendments indicates an indifference for the welfare of your constituents, as well as for the democratic process by which we voted for the provision of abortion care. People in need of abortions require timely, compassionate care and we will accept nothing less.
I am asking you, as one of my representatives, to protect the interests, the will, and the well-being of women living within your constituency, rather than continuing to advocate for inhumane practices.