Senator Fidelma Healy Eames has tabled an Amendment to be heard by Minister Reilly at Report Stage tomorrow (Monday) on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 for medical abortions to be performed on the foetus under anaesthetic. This is a Seanad Amendment and no discussion was heard on same in the Dáil debate.
“If we are to have abortions or terminations of pregnancy in this country, a pain-free end of life is the very least we can give the unborn baby. Given the considerable body of evidence about the pain that the unborn baby feels, this would go some way towards providing a humane ending to the defenceless unborn. It would also provide some consolation for the mother that her little baby felt no pain.
In neonatal units in the UK, surgery on foetuses over 23 weeks is performed with the unborn child under anaesthetic. It is medically accepted that unborn babies feel pain, some now arguing that they feel pain from 17 weeks. In the UK, there have been several attempts to highlight this. In 2008 a motion was put forward to reduce the abortion time limit to 20 weeks on the basis of pain research on unborn children. In the US in 2008 the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act was tabled by the House of Congress, to allow women access to information about the pain of the unborn during abortion, and choice as to whether their unborn can have pain relief during the procedure. Last month the US House of Congress passed the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act”, limiting abortions to 20 weeks, again due to the pain experienced by the unborn child during abortions over 20 weeks.
Evidence also reveals that in the later stages of pregnancy, the placenta thickens to protect the unborn child from maternal viruses—including HIV—alcohol and other toxic substances, but also to maternal anaesthesia. For this reason since c. 2000 a separate anaesthetic is given to the infant in perinatal surgery, as it has been proven that they feel pain, and quite intensely.
I discussed this with Minister Reilly in the debate on the Bill last week and he agreed to consider the evidence I provided him over the weekend.
Name me one Senator or Irish citizen who would deny an unborn baby an anaesthetic, if there life must be ended. I really hope the Minister takes this Amendment. Otherwise a Government whipped vote could be a real obstacle. We rightly provide for pain-free procedures for animals. It is the very least we can do for our unborn babies.
Use of anaesthetics during abortion will be a small cost to the taxpayer but is one which will be well worthwhile in order that the death be as pain-free as possible to the little foetus.”
In Ireland the abortion bill will complete its journey in the Seanad this week and will allow for abortion until birth, and as of yet the unborn infant has no legal right to pain relief during this procedure.
This is a horrendous scenario.
If necessary, I will press Senators to a vote tomorrow to provide for this humane measure. The very least we can do is take physical pain out of the equation.