Sabina Higgins attracts criticism from ‘pro-life’ groups
The wife of President Michael D Higgins, Mrs. Sabina Higgins, has come in for public criticism from ‘pro-life’ anti-abortionists in Ireland for her outspoken criticism of Ireland’s abortion laws.
Specifically, Mrs. Higgins told a conference of midwives that Irish law that requires women to carry foetuses with fatal abnormalities – and who cannot live at birth – to full terms was “an outrage”.
She was speaking after a debate organised by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland in Trinity College last week when she said: “There has to be the choice that you know that, what do you call it, that fatal foetal abnormality, that the person or persons should be made carry, you know, and sit in, you know.
“These are really outrages against women and outrages against the world and nature.”
Mrs. Higgins originally stumbled on her words but clarified she was referring to “fatal foetal abnormalities” NOT “foetal abnormalities” as suggested by anti-abortion critics who seized on her original verbal stumble. Constitutionally, the President of Ireland must avoid commenting on domestic politics but there are no such restrictions on the President’s spouse.
In the past Mrs Higgins has shared a platform with advocates calling for the repeal of the 8th amendment to Ireland’s Constitution, introduced in 1983 to ensure the ban on abortion in Ireland cannot be overturned – except by referendum.
Anti-abortion campaigner Senator Rónán Mullen called her “regrettable” and said: “Many of those who voted for her husband in the 2011 presidential election would have done so on the understanding that there would be no inappropriate interference from the presidential household in political matters.
“In her comments, she has failed to speak to the experience of all families who received a tragic diagnosis during a pregnancy – and many will have been deeply wounded by her denial of their deceased children’s dignity and rights.
Anti-abortion lobbyists The Life Institute’s Niamh Uí Bhriain said it was an “attack on the Constitutional right to life of unborn babies”.
As such it was, she said, “an absolute abuse of power and privilege” and “particularly offensive to families who had lost a child to a life-limiting condition”.
“The President’s wife is unelected but uses the platform of the supposedly non-political office of her husband to amplify her support for abortion,” she said.
“The fact that she has targeted babies with a disability to justify an abortion call is, in my view, reprehensible phrases like ‘fatal foetal abnormality’, which are not a medical diagnosis.”