Father Ted co-creator Graham Linehan has said he is “proud to be Irish” but deeply ashamed of the country’s “barbaric” abortion laws.
He told a press conference in Belfast that he and his wife Helen had to terminate a pregnancy because of a fatal foetal abnormality – but this would have been a criminal offence throughout Ireland.
The London-based writer (whose creations include Frank Kelly’s Fr Jack, pictured) was speaking in Belfast earlier this week in support of Amnesty Northern Ireland’s campaign to liberalise the region’s abortion laws.
But he also spoke out against Ireland’s strict ban. “In Ireland it is illegal to have an abortion, even in cases like ours where the foetus has a fatal impairment; even in cases where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
Unless her life is in immediate danger, a woman faces up to 14 years in prison for having an abortion. “I have always been very proud to be Irish but I am embarrassed by Ireland’s abortion laws. This is just something you can’t be proud of.
It’s barbaric.” “There are many reasons why people might need an abortion. My wife, Helen, and I, had our own reasons, and although we had excellent care in the UK, it’s shocking to me that we would have had a very different experience in my home country.
“Had we been in Ireland when we found out that the foetus Helen was carrying would not survive, she would have been forced to carry the baby to term. Getting the same procedure that she received in the UK would have led to her receiving a 14-year jail term,” he added.
Mr Linehan has produced a video for Amnesty called Chains, narrated by Liam Neeson, for use in Amnesty’s campaign. He joined the call for the repeal of Ireland’s 8th Constitutional amendment which bans abortion. “Ireland’s abortion laws are among the most restrictive and punitive in the world and that is why it was important to me to make this film.
“These cruel and dangerous abortion laws have no place in a modern country,” he added. Helen Linehan told The Guardian of her outrage that had she not been living in England she could have been prosecuted for a criminal offence or knowingly made to carry to term a baby bound to die as soon as it was born.
She said her experience was “absolutely devastating”. “It is unthinkable that, had we been living in Ireland, I would have been forced to carry the pregnancy to term and give birth to a baby that would be dead within minutes,” she added.
Read more about Irish Abortion Laws