Reality of abortion and Down syndrome exposed on Liveline
Last week, the wheels came off the false narrative from the Yes campaign which has sought to hide the horrifying reality that abortion is wiping out people with disabilities around the world – and that it will do the same in Ireland if the 8th amendment is removed.
From the outset, abortion campaigners including pro-repeal Obstetricians have flatly denied that it was possible to predict Down syndrome before 12 weeks – and argued that if tests made at 9 or ten weeks were inconclusive the proposal to legalise abortion for any reason at all up to 12 weeks would not have an impact on how many children with Down syndrome would be aborted.
However, those claims came badly unstuck this week when Rhona Mahony, who supports legalised abortion, admitted on RTE’s News at One that “you can test for Down syndrome at 9 weeks … this is a screening test, it gives a 99% predictive value”.
Naturally, this must have caused panic in the Yes camp, because within the hour, Peter Boylan was on Liveline trying to repair the damage. He succeeded in providing further clarity for voters – but not the kind of clarity the Yes side wanted voters to have.
Yes, it was possible for a test to predict Down syndrome at 9 or 10 weeks said Dr Boylan, but 99% wasn’t absolute certainty, it wasn’t 100%. The whole nation, and Joe Duffy, saw just how ridiculous that assertion was.
The next day, Dr Fergal Malone of the Rotunda was brought on Liveline where he coldly described children who had received a diagnosis of Down syndrome as the ‘unfortunate few’.
Two callers to the programme, mothers of children with Down syndrome were visibly distressed by his remarks and by the terrible notion that a baby could be aborted simply because the child has Down Syndrome. “I find it very insulting to my little boy,” said one mother. “Anyone listening would think a child with Down syndrome is a monster, do I need to hide my child?”
It was heartbreaking to listen to, and those brave mothers deserve our full admiration and compassion.
Dr Rhona Mahony and Dr Fergal Malone, Masters of the National Maternity Hospital and the Rotunda respectively, claimed hat already at least 50% of expectant mothers who receive a diagnosis of Down Syndrome elect to have an abortion.
Dr Peter Boylan asserts that this level ‘remains low’- but this is only in comparison to the levels of eugenic abortions that take place in countries such as the UK and Germany, on the grounds of mental health.
In Germany where there is no right to abort on disability grounds (a legacy of Nazi eugenics) but over 90% of German unborn children with DS are aborted under the ‘mental health’ grounds that Dr Boylan says the common folk don’t understand under Irish legislation.
When has 50% of a population ever been considered as low when referring to the rates of lives lost? In a food crisis, a 2-3% mortality rate is indicative of famine. 90% is effectively genocide yet Drs Mahony, Boylan and Malone continuously obfuscate on this reality.
The narrative from Drs Mahony, Boylan and Malone has been shown now to be smoke and mirrors. All agree that the DNA detection test for Down syndrome can take place from 9 weeks and theoretically a full diagnostic result returned within the 12 week limit.
Though the DNA predictive test is 99.9% reliable, Dr Boylan asserts that it would be ‘foolishto go and have a termination without a proper diagnosis’. With a 12 week limit it would be foolish to wait.
Is Dr Boylan correct to characterise Irish women who would make the choice asfoolish? Trust women, they say.
The impatience of Joe Duffy and inability of Dr Malone to empathise and understand why this was hurtful to the two parents who called in response to the use of discriminatory language is indicative of the paradox that exists in Ireland.
The availability of abortion up to 12 weeks without restriction, up to viability on mental health grounds, and up to birth in the case of life limiting conditions, further widen the gap between the rhetoric of an inclusive society and the reality.
How many more parents will be asked in whispered terms, as Maura from Kerry relayed on Liveline, ‘did you know in advance’?
This is the final layer of the legislation. Legislation drives culture. Our culture will change even more. And it is culture change that is the difference between cherishing all children and rates of Down Syndrome abortion at 90 or 100%.
The law will force no one carrying a child with Down syndrome to abort (in the immediate future), but instead of treasuring a child, the parents are ‘unfortunate’ at best.
At worst, those that continue with a pregnancy without following the socially responsible course of getting tested and aborting, will end up frowned upon by a society that has been shaped by the proposed legislation for burdening the tax-payer with the ‘abnormal’ child.
We are on this path already. This is why our celebrity doctors campaigning for repeal are unable to understand and to hear, however much they listen, why parents of children with DS are upset by the narrative that is being framed around their children.
We do not want to be that country. The narrative needs to change before the toxic discourse takes on a more malevolent form and our unconscious bias becomes first legislation and then a culture where we no longer recognise who we are and who we are. We will look around and not only will we not see the humanity in children with disabilities but we won’t see the children at all.
In the past we built high walls and hid children with Down syndrome away in institutions. The future being offered is a choice of inclusion or extinction. Vote No for inclusion. Vote Yes for extinction. Our leading doctors on the Yes campaign do not want this to be said out loud.