The vast majority of babies – up to 95pc – that receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome at the Rotunda maternity hospital are aborted afterwards. Their mothers travel to the UK for the procedure because abortion in these cases is not available in Ireland.
The figure was revealed by Professor Fergal Malone, the Master of the Rotunda maternity hospital.
He wants the current abortion law to change so that unborn babies with serious, but not life-threatening disabilities would also be eligible for abortion. Critics say this is a form of eugenics.
But he does not see a way to expand the current law without legislating also for abortion on grounds of disability, which he did not believe the majority of the public or politicians would support.
Meanwhile, Dr Aoife Mullally, the national clinical lead for the HSE’s abortion provision, revealed that some women who take pills to induce an early, medical abortion, later find out it did not work.
“The cases that keep me awake all night are the ones where, through no fault of their own, women have found themselves with a failed termination after 12 weeks and they have to travel,” she said.
“And, you know, they don’t have abnormalities, but they have made a decision to end a pregnancy.
“They’re now in a situation where the foetus may have sustained harm from the medication that they’re taking, but the pregnancy is ongoing”.