Danny Healy-Rae's comments about abortion in the Dáil show a complete lack of empathy 4 years ago

Danny Healy-Rae's comments about abortion in the Dáil show a complete lack of empathy

Last night during a debate in the Dáil, Danny Healy-Rae criticised Minister for Health Simon Harris's stance on the eighth amendment.

The Independent TD referenced a radio interview that had been conducted with Harris where the minister detailed the story of a couple who had lost their unborn child to Fatal Foetal Abnormality (FFA).

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During the interview, Harris said that he had met with a couple who had desperately wanted to have a child, but they were told the baby would not survive outside of the womb.

Healy-Rae said that he found Harris's comments "terrible."

He told the Dáil:

“Minister Harris, I was listening to the radio one evening recently and you came out on the radio and you said that it was terrible to think that a mother was coming from abroad with their young one in the boot of the car.

"I don’t know what you meant by it minister, but I surely know that the baby, the little dead baby, didn’t feel very loved.

"And it didn’t make a difference that the baby was in the boot of the car in London, or the north of Ireland or the south of Ireland. The unborn baby was dead at that stage anyway. So I was very hurt when I heard you saying something like that."

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The TD also said that Hillary Clinton supported abortions up until 8.5 months of pregnancy, and stated that her losing the US presidential election was proof of a "God in this world."

Harris responded to Healy-Rae explaining that the couple in question had wanted to have a child, and that they were devastated to discover that their unborn baby would not live outside of the womb.

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“They had to go to the UK," he said. "That was the decision they made, and they had to bring their baby back from the UK in the boot of a car in the coffin."

Healy-Rae's comments not only prove a complete lack of understanding surrounding the many reasons why people want to repeal the eighth amendment, but they also show a total lack of empathy.

It's not terrible for people to want to share their stories, and it's not terrible for a minister for health to want to help those who have been worst affected by Ireland's abortion laws.

Disregarding the experiences of a couple who were told their baby would not live and who made the decision to travel to the UK in favour of a self-righteous claim that your own feelings were "hurt" is terrible... and to suggest that that baby wasn't loved is even worse.

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There are many reasons why people are campaigning to legalise abortion in Ireland.

One of those is so a woman can terminate a pregnancy if she is not ready to be a mother. Another is so victims of rape and sexual assault can decide what is right for them. And another is so those experiencing the heartbreak associated with FFA can opt to end their pregnancy sooner if they wish.

Harris said he spoke to one couple who brought their baby home in the boot of their car, but there are many, many more who have had to do the same.

Every Irish citizen has not been directly affected by the eighth amendment, but it's important that we listen to those who have been.

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It's their stories that give an accurate depiction of the pain the amendment has caused and the desperate need to remove it.