THE WIFE of Ireland’s President Michael D Higgins has ignited major controversy over comments suggesting she supports abortion.
Sabina Higgins has described mothers being made to carry babies with fatal foetal abnormalities against their will as “outrages against women”.
Abortion remains illegal in the Republic of Ireland, except where the pregnancy presents a real and substantial risk to the mother’s life.
Mrs Higgins made the unscripted comments following a debate organised by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland in Trinity College last week.
“There has to be the choice that you know that…what do you call it … that 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,” said Mrs Higgins, according to the Irish Independent.
A spokesperson for Áras an Uachtaráin later clarified the comments saying when Mrs Higgins referred to “foetal abnormalities” she meant “fatal foetal abnormalities”, according to The Irish Times.
Anti-abortion campaigners have indicated that Mrs Higgins position, as the wife of the President, who is obliged to remain non-political makes her comments “wholly inappropriate”.
“Ms. Higgins has a responsibility to represent the views of more than just the abortion lobby. How are the heartbroken families of children who had life-limiting conditions and who only lived for a short while supposed to read her intervention?”, said Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign.
However, others including former Labour Senator Aodhán O’Ríordán voiced his support for Mrs Higgins on Twitter, saying “Find me an article in the constitution saying a family member of the President can’t voice an opinion?”
Mrs Higgins intervention into the abortion debate comes only days after the appointment of Independent TD Katherine Zappone as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, who supports the campaign to repeal the 8th amendment, a constitutional ban on abortion by recognising a right to life of an unborn child, introduced by referendum in 1983.