Next Wednesday morning has been set for when the Dáil will debate the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) (Foetal Pain Relief) Bill 2021. 

This important piece of legislation was initially introduced in May of this year by Independent TD for Laois-Offaly and member of the Rural Independent Group, Carol Nolan, and is co-sponsored by all of her Rural Group colleagues, Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín, Fianna Fail TD Eamon O’Cuiv, as well as members of the Dáil’s Regional Group, Peter Fitzpatrick, Sean Canney and Noel Grealish. 

It will be debated however during the Private Members Business slot assigned to the Rural Independent Group of TDs. 

The Bill will seek to amend the 2018 abortion Act to ensure that an appropriate anaesthetic or analgesic will be provided to the unborn child in situations where there are reasonable grounds for believing that the unborn child may have reached or exceeded 20 weeks of pregnancy, or where it is otherwise likely that pain would be caused to the unborn child arising from the abortion. 

Commenting on the progress of the Bill, Carol Nolan said, “I want to thank the ten co-sponsors of the legislation for their courage and commitment to advancing this truly humane piece of legislation.  

“We know that there will be those who oppose it, but we are respectfully asking all of our colleagues to engage with the science around foetal pain and to support this modest, but fundamentally important amendment. 

We are also urging all our colleagues and indeed, the general public to read the short but thorough report issued by the all-party Oireachtas Life and Dignity Group last December on the issues around late-term abortion and foetal pain. 

The report is available at www.lifeanddignity.ie.  

Surely, we can all agree, that pain should be minimised or reduced on those human beings, like the unborn child who have no capacity to resist.” 

This is why medical ethics requires that surgical procedures, both routine and major are carried out with the use of anaesthetics and analgesics, except in extreme circumstances where this is not possible.” 

“These values also inform our attitudes to the treatment of animals. Under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, vets and farmers are required to use anaesthetics when carrying out any procedure on an animal.” 

Hopefully Government will not oppose the Bill or at the very least allow it to proceed to Committee stage where we can sensitively and conscientiously tease out and address any issues that may arise,” said Deputy Nolan.

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