33 days….Mass appeal….pro-repeal minister for Disabilities, Finian McGrath contradicts himself.


33 days to go…. to Ireland’s abortion referendum on whether or not to retain or repeal the 8th amendment to the constitution which gives equal right to life to mother and child.


Every day, we promote Sr. Briege McKenna (O.S.C.) ‘s appeal for prayers, fasting and Masses to be said privately or publicly in parishes in reparation for Ireland’s turning from God, conversions of heart and for protection of the 8th amendment. There is nothing greater than the Mass.
Can you, with other parishioners organise one or more Masses / half-days / days of prayer with medically safe fasting in your parish between now and May 25th?
Please consider getting Masses said locally where ever you are or through the following:
(a): Aide to the Church in Need (Ireland): A.C.N. is an international organisation that helps the mission of the Church in some of the poorest and most dangerous places in the world……http://www.acnireland.org/masses or call 018377516 (International: 0035318377516)
(b): Human Life International Ireland, a pro-life and family, Catholic organisation, have a 1000 Mass campaign for the protection of the unborn and reparation for Ireland’s turning from God…….www.humanlife.ie/latest-news/1000-masses


The video below is from independent member of parliament (T.D.) Finian McGrath, own constituency website.
The first part is on the Make Work Pay scheme which aims to get more intellectually disabled adults into positions in the workplace with pay.
The second part, 40 seconds in, is a brief call to get out there and get the repeal the 8th over the line.

Finian McGrath, who is also a junior minister in the coalition government, is minister for disabilities and himself has a daughter Cliodhna with Down Syndrome. In his capacity as minister for disabilities, Minister McGrath has been calling for a repeal of the 8th amendment and helped launch Inclusion Ireland’s (the advocacy group for people with intellectual disabilities) repeal the 8th campaign.

In an article in the Sunday Times, McGrath stated that there is no evidence that repealing the 8th would result in a greater number of babies with Down Syndrome being aborted.

Mr McGrath said women with disabilities should also have the right to choose. “I believe in the equality of women in every area of Irish life, hence my support for the repeal campaign. Disabled people should always be free to make decisions about their personal and private life. This includes mobility issues in relation to travel and access to family planning services,” he said.

“Impediments such as inaccessible information, difficulty in travel, poverty, difficulty accessing medical treatment, including maternity services and access to contraception, place greater barriers in front of women with a disability exercising their reproductive rights. People with disabilities need access to sexual and reproductive health, just like everyone else. The UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, which Ireland recently ratified, affirms that right,” he said. (1)

With regard to the first argument: that there is no greater risk of Down Syndrome babies being aborted than non disabled babies:
He sates this despite the fact that virtually all Down syndrome babies in Iceland are aborted (2), over 95% in Denmark (3), 90% of those diagnosed pre-natally are aborted in Germany (4) and in the U.K.. (5): Whereas in the U.K., a ground exists for abortion of people with severe disabilities to include Down Syndrome (ground E on the abortion form), in Germany none exists. However in Germany it is done after 12 weeks on the mental health risk ground also because there is no specific ban. Just like the Irish government’s proposals here. As the pro-life posters, state, almost 1/5 pregnancies in the UK end in abortion. There is no way he does not know this information by now.

With regard to his second argument: That intellectually disabled women should have the right to choose and not have to travel:
This is in keeping with the language of Inclusion Ireland, their submissions and the human rights language of disability think tanks.
According to Inclusion Ireland, intellectually disabled women need the same rights as other women to access abortion in this country if they decide to, (presumably, providing they have been determined to have capacity to consent and the women in question do consent). One of the queries we had in previous posts on this position of Inclusion Ireland is, how does the process of dealing with a pregnancy in an intellectually disabled woman play out? The intellectually disabled woman (and her family if informed), will definitely receive non-directive counselling if they attend a family planning clinic with no real recognition of the life of the developing baby she is carrying.

It’s interesting to see Minister McGrath’s apparently totally different take on this issue in the following extract from another article in the Irish examiner (6):

Mr McGrath said he is aware of women with disabilities who have had to go to England for an abortion.

“The reality is that it goes on all the time,” he said. “Particularly those who are parents of daughters with intellectual disabilities where they are involved in decision-making and capacity issues.

“The bottom line is it is the parents, the G.P., and the people directly involved with that young adult with intellectual disability make the decisions.

“Yes, there are very tragic cases where they go to England. There has been issues of abuse in certain centres, it’s under the radar, but the bottom line is the G.P.s, the families, are saying: ‘Why should they be forced to travel over the England in crisis situations?’ ”

So despite his previous comments in the Sunday Times about intellectually disabled women’s right to choose and despite all the submissions from Inclusion Ireland on the right of their clients to sexual activity, which should be a sexual relationship of their choosing (and does not have to be loving as the word loving is discriminatory), the right to plan family to include contraception and abortion, the right to bear the number of children they want or not, at the end of the day, the minister says practically, it is the people AROUND a young woman, who make the decision, (at least in a community setting as judging by his referencing a G.P.)..

Separately some of these cases out of the minister’s own mouth, are the result of sexual abuse in certain centres and according to his own words are under the radar.

It’s surprising that he cites abuse in residential care as grounds for abortion for the intellectually disabled at one level and yet there is no media reaction to that given the level of understandable outrage at the physical and emotional abuse in Áras Treasa in County Mayo.(7).

But then he and the media was silent on the highly biased (6 pro choice to every 1 pro life expert witness) parliamentary health committee (Oireachtais committe) who proposed the repeal, referring to care of disabled offspring as a ‘burden’. So were Inclusion Ireland and Down Syndrome Ireland.

Between residential care and community / family set ups are two processes at work? Should her rights not be streamlined irrespective of where she lives?

There is no indication that the minister is up for repeal in a disinterested fashion, nor does he pretend to be. It is personal. He is clearly referencing the fact that he is the father of a young adult daughter with Down Syndrome whom he has spoke publicly about and been photographed with at the parliament buildings and he is stating her rights to an abortion. Does his pro-abortion stance, at least include an understandable fear that those with Down Syndrome risk being taken advantage of / abused more easily which may result in an unplanned pregnancy? Submissions to the Law Reform Commission are grand, but at the end of the day….

At the end of the day, are there two ideologies going on in the pro abortion movement for the intellectually disabled in Ireland?

On the one hand, ideologues, who cite the UN convention on disability, make submissions that if capacity to consent is deemed present and consent then given, this is grounds enough to permit sexual activity to go ahead in the intellectually disabled. These human rights professionals, insist on removing any language that is patronising, They advocate for family planning of as many children or none as the intellectually disabled may want and abortion access.

On the other hand, are the parents and family members of women with intellectual disability, who understandably fear their daughter getting pregnant in less than optimal circumstances. Maybe being parents, if they are honest, they fear it in any and all circumstances. According to the minister for disability’s own words, it is the people on the ground AROUND her, who make the decision on any pregnancy.

He doesn’t mention babies being born, just the decision being made by people around her. Is this not contrary to Inclusion Ireland’s own stated position, whose repeal movement he helped launch? One supposes he might say, that of course what he meant was that capacity and consent having been established, that the pregnant woman with intellectual disability would make the decision in consultation with the G.P. and family / care staff. And presumably the non-directive counselling from a family planning centre. He just neglected to mention her.

It would likely take a very strong-minded young woman with intellectual disability to not be swayed one way or the other if there was unanimity of opinion among those around her. If those representing the state and the family wish for abortion, is that what always happens? Because if not, where are the babies or are they in care / adopted? If there is disagreement between parties around the young woman, what happens? What happens in residential care? Is there a reluctance to talk about abuse in centres that result in pregnancy to protect the identity of the woman or because the father is also intellectually disabled? Have prosecutions resulted? if not, is it because, neither party was deemed to have capacity to consent or at least the father didn’t have capacity? Presumably he would not have been referring to non-disabled people sexually abusing residents or we would have heard about it? What does Finian McGrath mean when he says abuse happens under the radar in centres, a rationale for abortion for intellectually disabled women living in community or state run residences?



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