Dr Peter McParland, from the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin, gave evidence at the Citizen’s Assembly on January 7th, and made some interesting and revealing points.
Unusually, he described a D&C (dilation and curettage) abortion, explaining that it was a surgical procedure and that “the baby would not be removed intact”. He referred to the photographs of aborted babies being shown by members of the Irish Centre for Bio-ethical Reform and said that “on the way in here today you will have seen pictures of what a baby would look like with such a procedure.”
Interestingly, Dr McPartland said the “vast majority” of women whose babies were diagnosed with life-limiting conditions continued their pregnancies.
In sharp contrast to the claim made by Justice Laffoy, Dr McParland said that “We tend not to use the term fatal or lethal in our everyday practise. We tell the mother this is the condition we think will result in your baby having a short life. I don’t know what fatal is. Is it minutes, I don’t think any of us know that?” He also raised the rate of abortion for babies with Down Syndrome in other countries, saying the impact of the screening programmes introduced has been “huge”.
The obstetrician pointed out that there has been no baby born with Down Syndrome in Iceland in the last four years, while in Denmark only a handful of babies have been born with the condition. “Down Syndrome is not lethal or fatal,” he noted, adding that the ethics (of prenatal testing) needed some reflection, and that, as a society we have not reflected on what the implications are.
Dr McParland also told the Assembly that he believed that more abortions would be carried out for reasons of disability if abortion was legally available in Ireland.
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