Speeches in Rally 2013

Tracy Harkin


Hello my name is Tracy and over 6 years ago my husband Tom and I became parents of a very special little girl.

Our daughter Kathleen Rose, was born in November 2006. Shortly after birth she was diagnosed with a condition called Trisomy 13.  We were told her future was bleak.

If  diagnosed in the womb she would have been termed ‘incompatible with life.

However,  still alive and kicking after birth, she was now termed ‘life limited’. Doctors told us she would be mentally and physically handicapped and may not even survive her first year.

Despite this dismal diagnosis, we continued to insist that our baby be given every opportunity to reach her full potential - no matter what that may be.

Doctors followed our directives and following successful surgery we welcomed Kathleen home to the love and care of her family. Never are mothers and babies more vulnerable than when given a bleak diagnosis for their child in the womb.

It is vital that parents are given truthful, accurate information and realise there is always hope and support. The term incompatible with life is such a hurtful, horrible phrase, since it implies that the baby's life is worthless.

Most babies like Kathleen  with a condition like Trisomy 13, do live beyond birth, and every minute of their lives is precious. Here in Ireland we know, that 90% of parents do not choose abortion in these situations.

And we know that proper services, like perinatal hospices, provide valuable education and support which help parents to choose Life.  I recently had the privilege of listening to mothers who had lost their babies shortly after birth.

With the loss of any child, grief and suffering cannot be avoided. But these mothers described the immense comfort they gained from their precious memories of holding and loving their babies in their arms .

Their child was born, their child was loved, their child was named, and their child was laid to rest with dignity.

It is truly shocking therefore to see politicians wanting to introduce abortion rather than help parents celebrate these precious memories of their children.

It is these memories that sustain parents when their child is gone: the celebration of a unique life, however short - because every life counts. The term, ‘incompatible with life’ is also misleading.

The reality is that no doctor can predict with certainty how a child will fare outside of the womb.  This dreadful legislation proposes babies like Kathleen can be cruelly destroyed before birth. This is anything but compassionate.

This type of thinking does not belong in a civilized and progressive society. We know that in other countries abortion has cruelly eliminated huge number of unborn babies simply because they have been diagnosed as imperfect.

The ideology of choice has become a smokescreen for a  sinister practice of targeting babies with disabilities in the womb, in the name of compassion, exploiting parents at their most vulnerable and robbing communities of precious members.

I am so glad, today,  to lift high, and shed light on,  all special children who are being loved and cherished within families and communities the length and breadth of this country.

I am so happy to share with you the good news that our little girl Kathleen Rose is now 6 years old and is here with us today. Kathleen has defied all the medical experts, Kathleen is not incompatible with life, she is the love of our lives!

Kathleen has a beautiful distinct personality and is known most for her mischievous laughter and enormous hugs .

It is children like Kathleen that are such precious jewels within our culture. Why? Because they give love in abundance.

These children are sent to us for a reason. It is children like Kathleen that teach us how to love. We become better parents, more loving  people and richer communities by having these pure souls in our midst.

In this country let us continue to celebrate and defend, with every breath in our bodies, a culture of life for all, irrespective of disability or life expectancy.

For, none of us are perfect and none of us will live in this world forever!

Let us all continue with the greatest confidence to stand tall as a nation for life and to stand together as a people- who recognise the worth and value of every human person.

There is always a better answer than abortion. I know that. Kathleen Rose knows that.

Let's make sure our politicians know it too.