herald

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Child rape victim lashes TD's stance on abortion

SHOCK: Varadkar 'just cannot imagine the pain'

RAPE victim Barbara Naughton has slammed Leo Varadkar's comments that victims of rape should not be given permission to terminate their pregnancy.

The Fine Gael TD claimed that if there was an exception for pregnancy termination in Ireland, it could lead to "abortion on demand".

"I wouldn't be in favour of abortion," he said. "The only thing that would be a grey area is if there's a genuine threat or risk to the life of the mother."

And he questioned how women would gain access to the medical facilities required.

"Would someone have to prove that they've been raped?," he said. "I think where that's been brought in in countries it has more or less led to abortion on demand."

However, Barbara Naughton, who was repeatedly raped by her father Patrick from the age of nine until she was 18, said that the TD's comments were "regressive and ludicrous".

Shocked

"This man is not speaking from experience and he could not imagine the pain involved in carrying a child which is the result of unwanted sex," she said.

"I am shocked and appalled. In my opinion he is making comments about something he couldn't possibly understand or even begin to understand."

The Daddy, Please Don't author said that it should be up to every woman to make up their own mind.

"A woman has to live with being a victim of rape," she said. "It's only she who can make such a decision and she should have the total say in the subject and not be made feel like she was breaking the law which is essentially what is happening at the moment."

Barbara's father, Patrick Naughton, was found guilty of serial rape in 2001 and Barbara said that Leo Varadkar's comments are not helpful.

"I cannot comprehend how he thinks it's an opinion for a woman to carry a child for nine months and give birth and bring up a child that has been conceived through rape," she said.

"As far as I'm concerned, for a child to be born out of rape wouldn't be healthy for mother or child but I would never tell another woman what to do if they found themselves in this awful situation. His comments take me back to the years when Ireland was in the grip of the Catholic Church," she added.

Mr Varadkar outlined his views in an interview with a Sunday paper and said that although he is not religious, he would "accept a lot of Catholic social thinking".

"It isn't the child's fault that they're the child of rape," he said. "You can say the same thing about disabled children. You know, some people would make that argument in favour of abortion. It's not their fault they're disabled. I wouldn't be in favour of it in those circumstances either."

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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