Varadkar: Unborn child should not have either equal rights or no rights

Taoiseach may speak to Trump about LGBT rights, migration, climate change on St Patrick’s Day

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said while he does not think an unborn child should have equal rights to a mother, neither does he think it should have no rights at all.

In a wide-ranging interview with Maureen Dowd of the New York Times Mr Vardkar spoke about his views on abortion in light of plans to hold a referendum on the eighth amendment to the Consititution next year. The eighth amendment recognises the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child.

“As a doctor, I would perform pregnancy scans,” he said, “and while I don’t accept the view that the unborn child, the foetus, if you prefer that term, should have equal rights to an adult woman, to the mother, I don’t share this view that the baby in the womb, the fetus, whatever term you want to use, should have no rights at all. And there are people who take the view that human rights only begin after you’re born and that a child in the womb with a beating heart, the ability to hear, the ability to feel pain, should have no rights whatsoever. I don’t agree with that.”

In the article headlined “Move over DiCaprio and da Vinci ? Here’s Ireland’s Leo” Dowd describes Mr Varadkar’s election as the first openly gay and half-Indian Taoiseach as a “true Irish honeymoon, short and judgmental”.


Donald Trump

Mr Varadkar said when he meets US president Donald Trump next St PAtrick's Day he mostly wants to explain facts about Ireland and trade. If he had a chance he would like to speak to him about issues they disagreed on "whether it's migration or climate change and rights of women, rights of people from LGBT backgrounds.".

Mr Varadkar was asked would try to speak about LGBT issues to US vice-president Mike Pence when he meets him . Mr Pence has spoken strongly against same-sex marriage in the past. "Yeah, I would," he replied. "My experience of the very successful marriage equality referendum here was that if you want to convince people to change their minds, it's not by shouting at them or lecturing them or attacking them personally or degrading them. That's not how you change hearts and minds. And I certainly look forward to meeting him.

Coming out

Asked about coming out publicly two years ago Mr Vardkar agreed that he had spent years hiding his sexuality.

“I would have kept my private life very private. Maybe didn’t have much of a private life as well. You know, a lot of people sort of turn themselves into their careers, and that’s something I definitely did, both as a doctor and a politician,” he said.

He said he did not regret coming out publicly “for a second”. “And a lot of the fears that you have are very much your own fears. And the vast majority of people don’t really care. It’s a matter of passing interest. You know, your friends and family, the people who really love you, will always support you”