Language which dehumanises disabled children must cease – McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has announced that he intends to bring a Private Members Bill (PMB) aimed at tackling derogatory language toward unborn children with profound disabilities before the Dáil. Deputy McGrath was speaking ahead of a Press Conference on Tuesday morning which will see the launch of a campaign to end the use of the term ‘incompatible with life,’ by the support group Every Life Counts who represent families whose children were diagnosed with life-limiting conditions: 

“While several legislative provisions currently exist which prohibit the use of offensive or demeaning language, there is a genuine absence of legislation extending those prohibitions to profoundly disabled children in the womb.

To remedy that deficit I have drafted a PMB which will seek to amend the Disability Act 2005 in such a way as to regulate against the use of the term ‘incompatible with life’ when it is made in reference to disabled children.

The fact is that the parents of children who are given this kind of diagnosis by a medical professional have articulated to me their extreme distress around the continued use of the term.

One of the key points here is that the term is not only grossly offensive but it is also medically redundant and unnecessary.

It is also vital to say here that this is not an attempt to demonise or pursue medical personnel who almost always act in good faith and with compassion in such circumstances. 

Rather it is an attempt to extend to unborn disabled persons and their families the kind of protections we offer to other profoundly disabled people in terms of respectful language and appropriate treatment.

In the run up to the centenary of the 1916 Rising in which we honour the Proclamation’s desire to cherish all the children of our nation equally, it is my hope that this Private Members Bill will start a conversation around how important language is in pursuing that goal,” concluded Deputy McGrath.