Give women chance to hear foetal heart before abortion – TDs

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Give women chance to hear foetal heart before abortion – TDs


Peadar Tóibín and Carol Nolan, pictured, defied their party over the abortion issue
Peadar Tóibín and Carol Nolan, pictured, defied their party over the abortion issue
Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibin

Women seeking an abortion should be offered the chance to listen to a foetus’s heartbeat, pro-life TDs have proposed.

Women would also be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound under the plan.

The group of eight TDs want doctors who fail to make such offers to face a fine or a jail sentence under their proposed amendment to the Government’s abortion legislation.

The TDs, including Independent Mattie McGrath and former Sinn Féin deputy Carol Nolan, have put forward the plan among changes to the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018.

It is set to be debated by the Oireachtas Health Committee next week.

Other proposed amendments include doctors taking all “appropriate and practicable” steps to avoid causing pain to the foetus.

This would include possible use of an anaesthetic prior to termination if the foetus is more than 20 weeks.

Another amendment would provide for the “dignified disposal” of remains either by burial or cremation with an option for the woman to choose the manner of disposal.

In relation to the ultrasound and heartbeat proposal, a doctor would be required to perform the scan at least 24 hours before a termination.

Before or during the scan, the woman would be offered an opportunity to view the active ultrasound and hear the heartbeat, if audible.

The doctor would have to certify that the ultrasound was carried out, that the woman was told she could view it, and obtain a signature confirming it has been done.

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Doctors who contravene certain sections of the proposed rules could face fines or a jail term of up to four years after conviction on indictment.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Simon Harris declined to comment on the amendments last night.

The Government hopes legislation will be passed soon in order to allow terminations to become available in January.

The amendments were revealed on the same day Sinn Féin said that Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín had been suspended for six months after he defied the party and voted against the abortion legislation.

His former party colleague Ms Nolan – who represents Offaly – quit the party after she was suspended for opposing her party’s support for holding the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Mr Tóibín last night said that TDs are responsible for the laws they vote for, adding: “I could not in conscience vote for the bill.”

He said the almost 34pc of the electorate who voted to retain the Eighth “should have a voice in the Oireachtas”.

While Ms Nolan is among the eight TDs who tabled the proposed amendments, Mr Tóibín is not part of the group.

His suspension means that he will not be allowed to stand as a Sinn Féin candidate if there is a general election within six months.

He said there is a “significant chance” of an election then and that his suspension “could become a de facto expulsion”.

He did not respond directly when asked if he would run as an independent but said he will give “serious consideration” to his suspension.

Irish Independent

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