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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Abortion legislation

Nine TDs want law to ensure aborted foetuses are buried or cremated

A number of TDs have put down amendments ahead of the three-day discussion of the proposed abortion legislation next week.

ANTI-ABORTION TDS have proposed that the remains of a foetus be either buried or cremated following termination of pregnancy. 

The measure is just one of several amendments put down ahead of the three-day discussion of the proposed abortion legislation at the Oireachtas Health Committee next week. 

TDs Mattie McGrath, Michael Collins, Michael Healy-Rae, Danny Healy-Rae,
Michael Lowry, Peter Fitzpatrick, Carol Nolan, Michael Fitzmaurice and Noel Grealish also want a person who does not give “dignified disposal” of foetal remains to be prosecuted. 

The amendment states that women “shall be entitled to choose” either a burial or cremation. 

The nine TDs have suggested a number of amendments to the Regulation of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill, many of which are similar to proposals made by US politicians in the Trump administration, such as US Vice President Mike Pence. 

Governor of Indiana Mike Pence signed a Bill, which was eventually blocked, which would have basically forced a woman to seek funerary services for a fetus — whether she’d had an abortion or a miscarriage (miscarriage is not referenced in the amendments put down by the nine TDs).

Vox reports the law Pence backed would have required all fetal tissue to be cremated or buried. The law also banned abortion if the fetus had a “disability” — which would have denied women the right to end a pregnancy even in case of serious fetal anomalies.

It is known that Irish politicians, such as Mattie McGrath, who opposed the repealing of the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution travelled to the US to meet and consult with anti-abortion groups ahead of the referendum.

Other amendments put forward by the TDs include that it should be an offence for a person to sell or offer to sell a foetus or the bodily remains of a foetus which
has been the subject of a termination of pregnancy. 

They also want women who take abortion pills at home, without the authorised supervision of a medical profession, to be guilty of an offence.

At least 24 hours before a termination is carried out, the TDs want it included in the law that a medical practitioner be obliged to perform ultrasound imaging of the foetus and recording of the foetal heart tone.

The TDs also want it written into law that the pregnant woman be offered the opportunity to view the active ultrasound image of the foetus and to hear the heartbeat of the foetus, if the heartbeat is audible.

It suggests that a woman be requested to view the active ultrasound imaging and hear the sound of the foetal heart tone.

Women would have to sign a certificate to state that this was carried out and offered. A medical practitioner who fails to do could face a prison sentence of between 12 months to four years under the proposed amendment. 

Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín, who was yesterday suspended for voting against party policy on the issue of abortion, is also in favour of such a proposal. 

It is likely the amendments will be defeated at Committee Stage, while it is the government’s view that no substantial amendments be made to the proposed legislation as it was the basis on which the public voted in the referendum. 

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