Kenny and Gilmore reject Bruton view on planned abortion law

Sat, Feb 16, 2013, 00:00

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore have rejected the view of former taoiseach and Fine Gael leader John Bruton that the Government’s planned legislation on abortion would be contrary to the Constitution.

Mr Kenny said the Government would act within the Constitution in legislating to give effect to the Supreme Court judgment in the X case.

Speaking to reporters in Dundrum, Co Dublin, yesterday, Mr Kenny said everyone in the State was entitled to their opinion. He said there was a process for determining constitutionality, but it was the intention of the Government that the legal basis on which new regulations would be introduced would be “entirely constitutional”.

He said the heads of the Bill on abortion were currently being prepared. He added everyone would have the opportunity to give their views on the legislation when it was published.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the legislation would be in accord with the Constitution and he expressed confidence it would receive the support of all Fine Gael and Labour TDs.


Mr Gilmore said he disagreed with Mr Bruton’s assertion in an opinion article in yesterday’s Irish Times that it would not be “consistent with the plain words of the Constitution” to include a provision allowing abortion when there was a risk to the life of the mother from suicide.

“The Government has made a decision to legislate for the X case. That legislation will clearly be within the terms of the Constitution. The legislation is being prepared and we will be proceeding with it,” said Mr Gilmore.

“It’s over 20 years since the Supreme Court gave its judgment in the X case – there is a necessity to provide certainty for women, for mothers in this situation and the Government has decided to proceed with legislation.”


Speaking in Cork following a European Movement Ireland dialogue, Mr Gilmore said the events of the past year had shown the consequences of uncertainty for both pregnant women and medical professionals caring for them.

He said the legislation had yet to be published and “everyone will be able to express their opinion on it”, but he played down suggestions Mr Bruton’s comments would create tension between Fine Gael and Labour over the issue.

Left-wing TDs Joan Collins and Clare Daly attacked Mr Bruton’s view that the threat of suicide should be ruled out as grounds for abortion.

“John Bruton’s interpretation of 40.3.3, which would deny abortion where there is a risk a woman or girl may kill herself, is not far removed from the attitudes of the past which allowed the church and State to treat women and girls in the way they were treated in the Magdalene laundries,” said Ms Collins.

Ms Daly said there must be legislation based upon the X case, including risk of suicide as grounds for abortion.