The Pro Life Campaign has said that the refusal by the Minister for Health to answer official parliamentary questions on the gestational age of the babies involved in the 26 terminations carried out under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, and the medical conditions of the women, is not acceptable considering the enormous public interest in the Act’s operation.
Commenting on the matter, PLC Deputy Chairperson Cora Sherlock said:
“The Minister’s attempt to ignore the official parliamentary questions that have been raised by Deputies Eamon O’Cuiv, Terence Flanagan, Mattie McGrath and others amounts to nothing more than a disgraceful attempt to stifle debate on abortion in Ireland by withholding information from the public.”
“The questions raised can easily be answered in such a way as to protect the anonymity of the women involved. The 2013 Act was one of the most contentious pieces of legislation in the history of the State. Certain aspects are not supported by any medical evidence whatsoever. It is not enough for the Minister to simply issue a figure. Our collective duty towards women and their babies means that we must ask further questions. What were the conditions that caused the pregnancies to be terminated? What was the gestational age of the babies at the time of termination? Did the babies survive the termination procedure, and if so, are they now receiving medical care and attention? What sort of care were women given?”
“In the interests of transparency, the Minister must now answer the questions raised in the Dail so that the public can come to their own conclusions regarding whether this legislation is acting in the best interests of women and their babies,” she concluded.
Please find below the Parliamentary Questions and answer from the Minister. This can be found in the Oireachtas records here
Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health based on the report published on 29 June 2015, the number of terminations carried out under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act that resulted in a live birth in 2014 broken down between terminations arising out of suicidal ideation and by a direct medical risk to the life of the mother; the number of these children who are still alive; the gestation period at which all the terminations reported were carried out; the main medical conditions that caused the terminations to be carried out in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27190/15]
- Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health in relation to the report on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, the number of pregnancies that were delivered by caesarean section, the mother having requested a termination; the gestation period of the pregnancies terminated in the report; the way the real and substantial risk to the life level of risk was assessed; if this will be made aware to clinicians so that this information may be fed into clinical decision-making; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27240/15]
- Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will provide the gestational age for each of the 26 terminations which were carried out under the Act in 2014 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27422/15]
- Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27677/15]
- Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27678/15]
Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 332, 345, 379, 432 and 433 together.
As the Deputies will be aware, the first annual report on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act has been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas, as required under Section 20 of the Act. The report covers the period from 1 January 2014 until 31 December 2014.
The Act does not provide for the publication of any further details regarding terminations of pregnancy carried out. The information published on these procedures is restricted in order to limit the risk of identification in what is a private, confidential matter between women and their doctors.
The Report that issued from the Department of Health can be read here: