Part 3: The Government's
Abortion up to 12 weeks / 3 months
The Government have published the legislation they have said will be brought in should the 8th amendment be repealed. Head 7 of the legislation says that abortion will be legal, for any reason or no reason at all, so long as the pregnancy has not exceeded 12 weeks of pregnancy. Head 7 requires a 3 day waiting period between requesting an abortion and the abortion actually being carried out.
Figure 1 - The Government's Propose Legislation, Head 7
This means that a 12 week old, perfectly healthy unborn child, with a perfectly healthy mother, can be aborted for any reason at all. The fact that we won’t require any reason for an abortion at this stage will mean we move from having one of the most restricted abortion laws in the world to having one of the most liberal abortion laws in the world.
Abortion up to 24 weeks / 6 Months
Head 4 of the legislation allows abortion up to viability, generally understood as 24 weeks or 6 months, if the women’s life or health is at risk.
As you can see above abortion will be legal in any instance in which the unborn has not reached 6 months old, and where there is a risk of serious harm to the health of a pregnant woman. The bill defines ‘health’ as meaning either physical or mental health, but it does not define what serious harm to health, particularly mental health is.
Dr Peter Boylan, pro-choice activist and chairman of the institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has said that “I don’t really have a problem with them saying ‘serious risk’ because if the woman regards it as serious then it is. It should be the woman’s assessment of the risk that counts.” This is abortion on demand, up to 6 months.
Abortion up to birth / without limit
Abortion is allowed up to birth in two circumstances.
Firstly, under Head 5, where there is a threat to the life or health, either physical or mental, and it is necessary to carry out a termination immediately to avert that risk.
Secondly, under Head 6, where there is a greater than 50% chance that the unborn child will die shortly before or after birth. Neither of these options require a waiting period, neither has a limit as to how late in a pregnancy it can be carried out, neither requires an early delivery, instead of an abortion, if the child is older than 3 months.
Abortion due to disability
It is possible to diagnose Down’s syndrome from 9 weeks with 99% accuracy.
This means that children with disability can be aborted freely within 12 weeks, purely because they have a known disability.
It will be possible to acquire an abortion due to a child being disabled up to six months, under Head 4, and up to birth, under Head 5, albeit not directly.
The bill allows abortion up to 6 months due to a risk to the mother’s mental health, or up to birth if that risk is immediate. So a mother who says the thought of giving birth to, and raising, a child with a disability is causing her mental health harm will, as the bill is written, be legally able to abort that child up to the moment of birth.
There is absolutely no provision of the bill that bars this from happening.
German law has a similar situation, where the bill allows abortion due to risk of harm to mental health rather than explicitly for disability, and yet 90% of those diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted. This is exactly the legal system we are seeking to bring in.
Requirements for Early Delivery
There is no requirement in the proposed legislation for the unborn to be delivered early if they have reached viability. All heads of the bill which allow abortion after viability state that a termination is to be carried out. The bill defines termination as “a medical procedure which is intended to end the life of the foetus”.
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