Creighton will use 'moral judgement’ on abortion Bill

Minister says she wants to ensure Fine Gael and Labour ’can live with what’s being proposed’

Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton TD is questioned about abortion legislation she arrives the Chartered Accountants Leinster Society April Luncheon in the Westin Hotel Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton TD is questioned about abortion legislation she arrives the Chartered Accountants Leinster Society April Luncheon in the Westin Hotel Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Wed, May 1, 2013, 06:37

Some Fine Gael backbenchers were expressing “relief” at the general outline of proposed abortion legislation after studying the heads of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill last night.

A number of the party’s TDs indicated that they believed the planned law appeared to be more restrictive than they had anticpated.

Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan urged others not to “rush to judgement” on the proposed legislation.

“The matter well be discussed fully at the parliamentary party. It is important that there be a calm and reasoned debate that must be examined fully and members don’t rush to judgement on what is a complex bill,” Mr Flanagan said.

“It’s important that people be respectful of each other’s views and contributions.”

Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton yesterday said she would use her “moral judgment” when it came to voting on proposed abortion legislation.

The Fine Gael Minister is one of several parliamentary party members to have expressed strong opposition to the inclusion of suicide ideation in the proposed Protection of Maternal Life Bill 2013.

“I’ve never had any issue with coming down on the side of my own moral judgment in any issue, so I think that’s not a dilemma for me at all,” she said yesterday.

Speaking the Chartered Accountants Leinster Society lunch before the legislation was published, Ms Creighton said there were two parties in Government and she wanted to work to ensure Fine Gael and Labour “can live with what’s being proposed, and can vote for it ultimately”.

Fine Gael difficulty
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said

that he and others were “wrestling with their consciences” over the issue. A number of Fine Gael TDs made clear they continued to have difficulty with the inclusion of suicide ideation in the proposed law, although all said they would need time to study the heads of the Bill.

Galway West TD Brian Walsh’s recent declaration that he would not support the planned legislation has put pressure on a number of his party colleagues.

A colleague of Mr Walsh in the West said: “Fine Gael made that seat possible for him, made that seat easy for him and he’s put colleagues under pressure. Why couldn’t he at least wait to see what’s published?”

Wicklow TD Billy Timmins said he had “grave reservations” about the inclusion of a suicide clause. “I believe the X case judgment was flawed. Termination isn’t a treatment for suicide,” said Mr Timmins.

Michael Creed of Cork North-West said: “Suicide ideation is the crux of the difficulty but I’ll wait and see. I want to read the heads of the Bill and I’ll engage with the process thereafter. Obviously there will come a time when I’ll have to decide but it’s not at this juncture.”

Louth deputy Peter Fitzpatrick said he had given the Taoiseach a commitment that he would “do nothing” until he had read the draft.

Other TDs known to be concerned include Terence Flanagan, Peter Mathews, John Deasy and James Bannon. Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s constituency colleagues Michelle Mulherin and John O’Mahony have also expressed reservations, as have a number of Senators, including Paul Bradford and Fidelma Healy-Eames.

Brian Walsh’s constituency and party colleague Seán Kyne said he trusted Mr Kenny and the Minister for Health James Reilly.

“I have to trust them when they are telling me it won’t lead to abortion on demand or anything near that. I would be trusting at this stage.”