Minister Simon Harris has clearly not been briefed on abortion and disability, says Conor’s dad Michael O’Dowd.
Families of people with Down syndrome have called on Health Minister, Simon Harris, to explain how he could have been so ill-informed in regard abortion and disability when he was launching the referendum proposal earlier this week.
Mr Harris had claimed it was “offensive to suggest women in Ireland are seeking abortions” on disability grounds earlier this week, but the Independent reports that figures from the Department of Health in Britain show that 83 abortions were carried out on Irish women because the baby had Down syndrome in 2015 and 2016.
Michael O’Dowd of Disability Voices for Life said that it was very worrying that the Minister for Health did not seem to be aware of these figures when he was proposing to repeal the 8th amendment and introduce an abortion regime similar to that in Britain.
“It would seem that Simon Harris was not briefed on this issue, and this very sad reality, before making those statements and, to be honest, we would find that very worrying. He seems to be pressing to repeal the 8th without fully understanding the consequences for people with disabilities,” said Mr O’Dowd whose son Conor has Down Syndrome.
“This is the second time in as many months that Simon Harris has said that disability is not an issue in the abortion but clearly that is not true, and the Minister needs to be fully briefed on the facts before he tries to curtail debate,” said Mr O’Dowd.
“The truth is that women are often made to feel that abortion is the only answer after a diagnosis of disability, and this form of coercion needs to stop. Abortion is too-often a repeated suggestion when families need support and compassion. People with disabilities need their rights, including their right to life, protected. Abortion doesn’t do that,” he said.