Archbishops say abortion proposal 'of utmost concern'
The Taoiseach said yesterday the Government whip would be applied. “There will be no free vote on this,” he said.
It came after Dublin Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy called for a free vote, a call echoed by Young Fine Gael. While Mr Murphy said he supported the Government’s preferred option, the inclusion of suicide may become a matter of major contention within Fine Gael. Labour TDs are expected to back the measure.
At least a dozen of the party’s Deputies have indicated they have concerns over it being included as a ground for abortion, including Minister of State Lucinda Creighton; John O’Mahony; James Bannon; Regina Doherty: and John Paul Phelan.
“The uncertainty for many of us stems from the issue of including suicide in legislating for the X case. It is difficult for somebody who has a genuine fear that once the door is open it will not be capable of being closed,” Ms Doherty said.
Equally, many Fine Gael TDs have expressed strong support for legislation, including suicide as a ground. According to the expert group’s report, legislation plus regulations would also fulfil the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights and the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B and C v Ireland case.
In 2010 the court decided Ireland was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights in the case of C.
The fourth option presented by the expert group states: “Most aspects of the provision of lawful termination of pregnancy would be set out in primary legislation, with certain operational matters delegated to the Minister to govern by way of regulations.
“The advantages of this option are that it fulfils the requirements of the judgment, it provides for appropriate checks and balances between the powers of the legislature and the executive, and would be amenable to changes that might arise out of clinical practice and scientific advances,” the report stated.
Anti-abortion groups have criticised the Government’s intention to introduce legislation for abortion next year based on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the X case.
The Pro-Life Campaign said the proposed legislation would “introduce an abortion regime into this country in which the life of the baby could be directly and intentionally targeted for destruction".
In a joint statement, Irish Choice Network, Choice Ireland, Action on X, Galway Pro-Choice, Cork Women's Right to Choose and Doctors for Choice said the proposed legislation "should only be considered a first step towards liberalising abortion laws in Ireland".