Abortion legislation to go before Cabinet next week

Government hopeful new law will be enacted before the summer recess

Tue, Apr 23, 2013, 20:19

Proposed new abortion laws will go before the Cabinet next week.

Minister forf Health James Reilly reported to his ministerial colleagues on the progress of the legislation which is due to be enacted by July. It had been expected Dr Reilly would bring the proposed legislation to Cabinet today.

But no decision was taken despite an insistence by Taoiseach Enda Kenny that he still wants to see the law in place by the summer.

“I’ve said to the Dáil that we would like to see the legislation enacted before the Dail rises for the summer, that’s to give as much time as is practical and is needed,” he said.

“I can’t be obviously definite about that but I would like to think we could do that by the rising without having to pressurise people.

“Clearly there has been a lot of speculation over the weekend but obviously those are matters to be considered by government.”

The Taoiseach said that a great deal of work had to be done on the legislation but that he wanted Dr Reilly to give Ministers an update on progress.

It is understood drafts on new legislation have not been examined as the Coalition Ministers in Fine Gael and Labour could not agree both parties were ready for discussions.

Separately, Mr Kenny was forced to defend his stance on women’s rights after being attacked by Clare Daly TD who questioned if their lives were less important than men.

Reports that the Cabinet would be asked to sign off on a contentious six doctor assessment regime have also been left hanging in the air.

Dr Reilly said yesterday that there was no question of women who were pregnant and suicidal being required to face an interview panel of medics, either “individually or simultaneously”, in order to be legally granted abortion in Ireland. The Minister gave the assurance after specialists warned that it was an idiotic proposal and a sick joke.

Fine Gael is under pressure from some of its backbenchers over loosening the strict rules on abortion.

The Government committed to reforming abortion law by July following the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar in a Galway hospital last year.

PA