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Leo stands over remark in abortion debate

The health minister said a grammatical error was to blame.

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

HEALTH MINISTER LEO Varadkar has apologised for any offence caused by a remark he made during a Dáil debate on abortion last December.

Pro-life group Every Life Counts were unhappy that Varadkar said the current law causes parents of unborn children with life-limiting conditions have “to explain for weeks and months to all enquirers that their baby is dead”.

The group, which represents parents who have lost their babies to conditions such as anencephaly and Trisomy 13, wrote to Varadkar to tell him his statement was factually incorrect.

Every Life Counts spokeswoman Tracy Harkin said the comment caused parents “hurt and offence”, adding that their babies “were alive and kicking in the womb, however severe their disability”.

A spokesperson said Varadkar has written to the group to apologise for any offence caused but said the minister stands over the remarks.

He made them while discussing the chilling effect the eighth amendment has on doctors.

During that debate the minister made a grammatical error and should have referred to a foetus which ‘will not be born alive’ rather than one which was ‘dead’. He was happy to clarify that in correspondence and has sought to clarify that matter in subsequent Dáil debates. But he holds firmly to the opinions expressed during that debate.

“It’s also worth pointing out that on the same evening in the Dail, he called for a ‘calm and measured debate, an exchange of views about what is right and wrong for women, the unborn, families and society’,” the spokesperson added.

Source: Every Life Counts/YouTube

Grace Sharp, a mother who lost her daughter, said her baby’s life was “may have been short,” but it was important nonetheless.

“Our babies were not ‘dead’ in the womb. They were very sick, and some of them had only short lives, but they were alive and kicking and we loved them in the way that every parent loves their baby, with all our hearts,” Sharp said.

Read: Other families’ bravery made me talk about my daughter Ella – Boyd Barrett

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Órla Ryan

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