Cautious reaction from FG TDs to plan
Political reaction:Fine Gael TDs reacted cautiously to confirmation that the Government would proceed with “legislation plus regulations” for limited abortion, one of four options put forward by the expert group.
A group of deputies from the party have expressed reservations about legislation that would include the risk of suicide among the grounds for abortion. The most prominent among these is Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton.
She did not comment in the aftermath of the Cabinet decision following “substantive” discussions, but her colleagues indicated she still had “sincere concerns”.
A number of Labour TDs and Senators released statements yesterday welcoming the development. Louth TD Gerard Nash said Labour policy had been “vindicated” by the Government decision.
“I have always publicly supported legislation in this area, sometime at the cost of vitriolic personal abuse by extremists. For 20 years now, the Labour Party has been a strong, and most often, a lone voice on the need to act in relation to the X case,” Mr Nash said.
Carlow-Kilkenny deputy Ann Phelan said the move was a “victory for the women of this country”. She added: “Labour remains the only main political party which has clearly and consistently advocated for legal clarification on this, a woman’s constitutional right, to have a termination in certain circumstances.”
Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said his party would play its part. “We don’t want to play party politics with this. The Government is trying to move this issue forward and we will play our part in this particular issue,” Mr Kelleher said.
“But clearly what’s at stake here is the fact that we have to get the balance between the right to life of the mother and also protect the unborn.”
Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin welcomed the announcement. He said the option of legislation with regulation was the preferred choice of Sinn Féin, and added that the Government should bring forward draft legislation as early as possible. “We must legislate. That is the task that the Oireachtas must now face up to. All Teachtaí Dála have an obligation to address this need and to step up to the mark as legislators. There is no selfish political advantage in this for any party,” Mr Ó Caoláin said.
Independent Senator Rónán Mullen was strongly critical of Fine Gael, accusing the party of having broken a pre-election promise. He accused Fine Gael of having “caved in to the ideological opportunism of the Labour Party in the wake of the Savita Halappanavar tragedy”.
Mr Mullen said: “Fine Gael’s about-turn is based on a psychiatric myth – the claim that abortion is a treatment for suicide. Perhaps the Supreme Court of 20 years ago could be forgiven for thinking this, but in the intervening 20 years it has become very clear that abortion is not a treatment for suicide.”