Kenny rules out abortion on demand


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has pledged that the legislation on abortion will not lead to the introduction of abortion on demand.

Speaking at a pre-Christmas briefing for political correspondents, Mr Kenny emphasised that what was taking place was the introduction of regulation and restriction on a matter that had been unregulated since the Supreme Court decision on the X case in 1992.

Refusing to be drawn into a response to criticism by the Catholic hierarchy, the Taoiseach said that he was due to meet with the Catholic Church as part of an ecclesiastical dialogue early in the New Year and he looked forward to engaging with them.

Describing the abortion issue as “a very sensitive and a very complex matter”, he said the Government was simply doing what it said it would do.

“Rather than being in a position of attempting to dictate to anybody here, we have set out the process for hearings by the Oireachtas Committee on Health for information, and then for using all of the contributions for the development of the heads of a Bill for legislation which will be debated in the committee and sent back to the Dáil.”

He said the intention was to publish the regulations that would apply so that everybody had the fullest information possible.

“What we want to do here is bring about regulation and extra safety features in an area that is currently unregulated.”

Legal clarity

He said he had listened to many of the arguments on the topic and this had increased his determination to bring legal clarity and certainty to the position.

Mr Kenny said one part of the process would be to introduce restrictions into the area where the threat of suicide applied, which was currently without regulation or restriction. “We will have the fullest possible discussion about all of this and we will deal with it comprehensively and sensitively.

“Far from this being any culture of death, it is a culture of life for the protection of lives of women and respect for the mothers,” said the Taoiseach.

He added that everybody elected to the Dáil had a constitutional duty and a political responsibility to deal with the issue in a calm, rational, considered and sensitive manner.

Wider discussion

Mr Kenny said he greatly admired the agencies dealing with crisis pregnancies which had reduced the number of women going abroad for terminations from 6,500 to 4,000.

“We are not dealing with that issue, nor are we dealing with the issue of foetal abnormalities, pregnancies caused by rape or incest. These are obviously part of a wider discussion that goes on in Ireland.”

He said it was not possible to set a date for the conclusion of the legislation. “I don’t want this to be dragged on interminably but I do want to give everybody the opportunity to have their say,” he added.

“We are certainly not going to have any regime here that leads to abortion on demand,” said Mr Kenny who added that the Supreme Court had been clear that there could be a termination only if there was a direct threat to the life of the mother.