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'It is completely false to say abortion will take place right up until the end of pregnancy'

Dr Peter Boylan met with Health Minister Simon Harris today to discuss the risk associated with taking abortion pills.

“IT IS COMPLETELY FALSE to say abortion will take place right up until the end of pregnancy,” said Dr Peter Boylan today.

Health Minister Simon Harris and Arts Minister Josepha Madigan (who is tasked with driving Fine Gael’s referendum campaign) joined Dr Boylan today to discuss the medical harm posed to women by the Eighth Amendment.

The health minister said there was already a lot of “misinformation” being spread on the issue of late-term abortions.

Harris said the draft legislation (which will go through the Houses of the Oireachtas in the event the referendum is passed) includes a ban on late-term abortions, he explained.

“That is already the medical practice, he said, adding that doctors already do early deliveries once the foetus reaches viability.

Dr Boylan said foetal viability (which is the viability to survive outside the womb once a baby is born) is currently around about 23 or 24 weeks.

IMG_0953 Dr Peter Boylan, Minister Josepha Madigan, and Health Minister Simon Harris Source: Christina Finn

He said:

Leaving the Eighth Amendment in the Constitution is a very rigid way of dealing with medical problems and complications. That advantage of legislation is it is flexible. Viability has moved back from 28 weeks when I was training, now to 23 or 24 weeks.
There is no saying that it won’t go further and if we have legislation then we can reduce the time limit (which the draft legislation states is 12 weeks) by which an abortion would be legal.
In other words that foetal viability will be the measure of, beyond which, babies will be delivered and not aborted. So it is completely false to say abortion will take place right up until the end of pregnancy. Those babies will be delivered in the mother’s interest

Social media 

Harris said it is “very important” the public hear from medical experts throughout the referendum campaign and warned people about the falsehoods being spread via social media.

“We have heard a lot of misinformation in the campaign in relation to late term abortions,” said the minister, who added that the Referendum Commission has already acknowledged that it faces difficulties in challenging some of the untruths spread online.

Harris said this is an issue the government will consider in due course, but unfortunately, not in time for 25 May.

“What I would call everyone to do, regardless of what side of the argument you are on, is to provide factual information that they are willing to stand over… people want to hear from experts. There are reputable, known, named experts – people that are responsible for the delivery of babies, people who are responsible for the care of women in our maternity services, people like Peter Boylan and his colleagues in the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists,” said Harris.

Abortion pills 

In addition to speaking about the information in the campaign, the minister spoke about the dangers of the unsupervised use of abortion pills.

While Harris said people should not use illegal medicines, such as abortion pills, he pointed out that in reality, many Irish women are being forced to do so under the current regime.

Dr Boylan said abortion pills are being used without regulation or medical supervision, but added that when they are used under medical supervision they are “extremely safe”.

“But there are serious dangers when women take them without medical supervision. We have knowledge of women who have taken them in excessive dosage and that can result in catastrophe for a woman such as a rupture of the uterus with very significant haemorrhage.

“And if that happens in the privacy of a woman’s home or perhaps in an apartment somewhere, that can have very, very serious consequences for women. So it’s really important that these tablets are regulated and licensed and dealt with in a supervised way, in the interests of the health of women in the future,” he said.

Head of the Fine Gael referendum campaign Minister Josepha Madigan said that Fine Gael would not be putting up any of its own Vote Yes posters.

She said the Taoiseach, many ministers and councillors will campaign for a yes vote in the referendum.

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