If we vote yes, will abortion be allowed in Ireland because the growing baby might have Down syndrome?
The proposed legislation will allow abortion during a restricted period in early pregnancy and under the supervision of a doctor. After this, women will only be able to access abortion care if their health or life is at risk, or if the developing baby is diagnosed with a fatal condition. The proposed legislation will not allow disability as a reason for abortion.
Most women decide not to have their pregnancy screened for disability. Some women, particularly if there is a greater probability, will seek screening either privately during early pregnancy or they may be alerted to an increased chance of Down syndrome at their 20 week scan. No screening can give a diagnosis of down syndrome and must always be complemented by additional diagnostic tests. When a woman receives a diagnosis of Down syndrome, she may continue her pregnancy and the diagnosis allows the family to prepare for the care of a child with special needs. Some families who get a diagnosis of Down syndrome during pregnancy decide to have an abortion abroad.
If the public vote yes
There will be no provision for abortion in Ireland on the basis of a diagnosis of non-fatal disability, like Down syndrome. As is currently the case, some women, particularly if there is a greater probability, will seek screening privately in early pregnancy, or if they are alerted during their 20 week scan, and may decide to end their pregnancies abroad if a diagnosis of Down syndrome is confirmed by further tests.
It is never possible to fully appreciate the personal circumstances of another woman or family when it comes to a decision such as this. The majority of women seeking abortion care already have one or more children. Whatever decision she makes is considered and thoughtful and takes into account the well-being of all of her family.
Prejudice and discrimination against people with disabilities is a societal issue and should not be used as a reason for denying suitable, compassionate healthcare for all women and families in Ireland.