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Abortion doctor study reveals reality of late-term abortion ‘feticide’ under Ireland’s new law

Abortion doctors in Ireland have described late-term abortion as “‘brutal’, ‘awful’ and ‘emotionally difficult’, referring to it as ‘stabbing the baby in the heart’, and held themselves responsible for the death of the baby”.

A recent study based on interviews with ten doctors who perform abortions in Irish hospitals under the country’s new abortion law reveals the macabre work of abortion doctors who abort babies with disabilities, with one doctor saying: “I remember getting sick out in the corridors afterwards because I thought it (feticide) was such an awful procedure and so dreadful.”

A section titled ‘Internal Conflict and Emotional Challenges’ describes the emotional difficulty experienced by most of the doctors who perform late-term abortions. Over half of the participants described their work as creating a ‘psychological burden’. In addition to saying late term abortions were ‘brutal’, ‘awful’ and involved ‘stabbing a baby in the heart’, a couple of them referred to themselves as ‘doctor death’.

Late-term abortions

Late-term abortions typically use a procedure known as ‘feticide’, whereby the baby is killed in the womb, before inducing labour so that the mother gives birth to a dead child. This involves the injection of potassium chloride directly into the baby’s heart to end the baby’s life.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) says that “failure to perform feticide could result in live birth and survival, an outcome that contradicts the intention of the abortion.”

The administration of potassium chloride in executions in the USA is considered so painful that it is necessary to first administer an anaesthetic before its use. There is, however, no such obligation to use painkillers in late term abortions, despite the mounting evidence that the unborn baby is capable of experiencing pain and distress.

What happens to the babies born alive?

Sometimes, during an abortion procedure, the attempted ‘feticide’ in the womb fails, resulting in the baby being born alive. The report leaves the fate of these babies unclear but implies that they are left to die with or without palliative care.

It states that the doctors who were performing the abortions were “‘unclear as to who will look after these babies’ if a baby is born alive following [an abortion] by induction of labour and without feticide, resulting in them ‘begging people to help’ them in providing palliative care”.

The report also quotes a doctor as saying: “None of us want to be in a situation where we thought, ah sure deliver and then the baby is alive six weeks later and there’s all the issues that go with that”.

Not fatal enough

Abortion legislation in Ireland permits abortion throughout all stages of pregnancy if the baby has a disability such that doctors can form a ‘reasonable opinion’ that the baby is likely to die within the first 28 days of his or her life.

The report says that the abortion doctors faced difficulty with conditions that were ‘not clearly fatal but clearly awful’.

There have been cases of abortion following a misdiagnosis of disability. In 2019, a baby boy was thought to have Trisomy 18 and only after the abortion was it shown that the child was perfectly healthy.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said: “This report unintentionally reveals the truly dark and disturbing reality of abortion. Several abortion doctors describe ‘feticide’, which is just a form of abortion, as ‘brutal’, and ‘stabbing the baby in the heart.’ No wonder they experience a ‘psychological burden’.

“Through its interviews with those who actually perform abortions, the report shines a light on the total inhumanity of the whole process. The authors of the report are evidently dissatisfied with the limits placed on abortion on the grounds of disability in Ireland. As in the UK, the lethal discrimination against people with disabilities is on clear display.”

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

In 2020, the UK Government imposed an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, which included a provision that legalised abortion right up to birth for disabilties including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

A new Bill has been launched at the Northern Ireland assembly that will remove the current provision that allows abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’.

It is under these grounds in the regulations that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Before the new abortion regime was imposed on Northern Ireland in 2020, disability-selective abortion for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot was not legal and there was a culture of welcoming and supporting people with these disabilities rather than eliminating them.

This is reflected directly in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which show that while there were 52 children born with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, in the same year only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales. 

This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom where disability-selective abortion has been legal since 1967.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to take 30 seconds of your time and add your support to the campaign to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland: 
Ask your MLAs to vote to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot:

If you live outside Northern Ireland: 
Show your support by signing this petition in support of the Bill:

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