During the referendum debate pro-life campaigners were accused of ‘scare-mongering’ when they warned that babies could be left to die following botched late-term abortions, and that unborn children with Down Syndrome would be disproportionately targeted if the law was changed. A story from Germany starkly illustrates what we were warning about, unfortunately.
A few days ago, Tim (pictured), a young man of 21 with Down Syndrome passed away. Tim had survived an abortion at 22 weeks. The doctor had not injected the baby’s heart with the deadly poison, potassium chloride, because he believed he was so premature he would die anyway. When Tim was delivered alive, he was refused after-birth care and so suffered further damage. But still he would not die. Doctors then predicted Tim would die by the age of one, at most two, such were his disabilities. He proved them wrong about that as well.
In Germany, an unborn baby cannot be aborted simply because it has a severe genetic abnormality like Down Syndrome. However, as Derek Scally writes in The Irish Times today, after the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, a German woman can still have an abortion when she “feels – for health or psychological reasons – unable to carry the baby to term.”
This is almost exactly the same as the Irish law. A woman can have an abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks, and after for on health grounds, including psychological health.
In Germany, as Scally writes, nine in ten unborn babies found to have Down Syndrome are aborted even though a severe general abnormality is not a ground for abortion. That is the same as law here. Our law will not save babies with Down Syndrome either.
Given the similarities between the German law and the new Irish one, there is no reason whatsoever why a similar case to that of Tim cannot happen here. For now, abnormalities like Down Syndrome are diagnosed for the most part at around the 20th week of pregnancy (although a blood test is increasingly available that can detect it before 12 weeks).
For the time being, it is at around week 20 or 22 that babies with conditions like Down Syndrome will be aborted in Ireland on ‘mental health of the mother’ grounds, like in Germany. Like in Germany, the doctor might not inject the baby’s heart with potassium chloride, if they think the baby will die anyway. Like in Germany, the baby, if born alive, can then be left to die. But it might defy the odds, just like Tim.
This is what we voted for. We were told otherwise.
PS. One of our big radio shows could easily have made the story of Tim an item of discussion if it suited them. But it does not because it would harm the dominant pro-abortion narrative. In fact, since the referendum, the likes of RTE have decided that the abortion issue is now ‘settled’. If it is, it’s precisely because RTE and other stations won’t allow cases like that of Tim to be discussed here. They will not permit anything to undermine the new abortion dispensation.
(Picture: Simon Guido)