Reilly says it is not possible to put term limits on abortion legislation

Dr James Reilly says there is ‘no question’ of viable babies being aborted

Minister for Health  James Reilly: maintained the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill will provide clarity to both pregnant women and to the medical profession. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Minister for Health James Reilly: maintained the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill will provide clarity to both pregnant women and to the medical profession. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Thu, Jun 13, 2013, 17:05

There are no term limits with the abortion legislation because it is not possible under the Constitution, Minister for Health James Reilly has said.

Dr Reilly said abortion is legal under the terms of the 1992 X Case judgment and it cannot be subject to term limits.

He stressed, however, that where a baby is viable, there will be no right to terminate that baby’s life because the constitution does not allow it.

In the case where a woman who is suicidal with a baby which can be born alive, there will be “no question of a termination”, he told Newstalk’s Breakfast programme this morning.

“It is very wrong to suggest that we are going to have a newborn baby aborted in the sense of having its life terminated if it has a viable future,” he said.

He maintained the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill will provide clarity to both pregnant women and to the medical profession.

If a suicidal woman is unhappy with an original panel decision, she will have to write for a review. The HSE will have to form the panel within three days and they will have to meet within seven days at the most to make a decision.

When asked if a pregnant suicidal woman would stay around for 10 days waiting for the verdict, Dr Reilly responded: “I don’t want to get into conjecture here. What I have to do as a minister with responsibility in this area is to address the glaring deficit in our legislature that several Governments have declined to address.”

He said The Irish Times poll which showed that 75 per cent of people supported legislating for the X Case was “very valuable in informing us where the Irish people are at”.

Minister of State for Housing Jan O’Sullivan acknowledged there were a “few people in Fine Gael that have difficulty” with the legislation, but said she believed the “vast majority of Government deputies and senators will vote for it”.

Ms O’Sullivan said there had been “very strong solidarity between the two government parties in relation to the issue.” The Government had got the balance and the wording right, she said.

“It is a difficult issue for a lot of people but I think we have always been clear on what we were going to do in the legislation -it is to legislate for the X-case,” she said.

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