Abortion legislation in progress, says Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny indicated planned abortion legislation was at an advanced stage when questioned in the Dáil yesterday about the leaked draft report of the HSE inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar.
Mr Kenny declined to give a date when Minister for Health James Reilly would bring the heads of the Bill to Cabinet but said a good deal of preparatory work had been completed.
“I can confirm that quite a deal of work has been done in preparation of the legislative heads that will be required. When they are completed, the Minister will bring that to Government for approval,” Mr Kenny said.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called on Mr Kenny to publish the report. Mr Kenny said the report had not been finalised and had not been received by Dr Reilly. “I would have expected, as normal courtesy should apply, that the husband of the late woman should be the first person briefed about what is happening,” he said.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams also raised the issue of the leaked draft report during the order of business yesterday and asked Mr Kenny to reveal when legislation for the X case would be brought forward by the Government.
Later, United Left Alliance TDs Clare Daly and Joan Collins issued a joint statement reacting to the leaked draft report. They said the opinion of no more than two medical practitioners should be sufficient to approve abortion, either on grounds of physical risk to life or risk of suicide.
“There must be legislation so that doctors can perform abortions when pregnancy puts a woman’s life at risk. And as the chief justice said in the X Case ruling, that risk should not have to be ‘immediate or inevitable’ in order for abortion to be approved,” Ms Daly said.
Ms Collins said the first person to have seen the report should have been Praveen Halappanavar. She said it was unacceptable that a report which was apparently concluded six weeks ago should be delayed for another 10 days before being published.
Matter of urgency
Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said it was essential that Dr Reilly move to publish the full report as a matter of urgency.
“We cannot have a situation where an issue as sensitive and serious as this is being reported on in the media, based on a partial leaking of the document, and the family concerned and the public do not have access to the full facts,”
Mr Kelleher said. “I fear that the early leaking of a partial report into Savita’s death has the potential to threaten the tone of the debate, as different lobby groups seek to emphasise different parts of this leaked document.”