Fine Gael TD sharply criticises Labour over abortion stance
O Riordain says abortion Bill ‘should start debate on the removal of Article 40.3.3’
Labour TD Aodhan O Riordain said issues such as rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality could not be dealt with in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
A Fine Gael TD has sharply criticised his Labour Government colleagues as he declared his opposition to the abortion legislation in the Dáil.
Galway West deputy Brian Walsh said the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. had won the support of members of the Dáil who had a professed desire to see more liberal abortion facilities.
“It is seen as a stepping stone by those members, some of whom we know sit amongst us on this side of the House. Two Labour backbenchers clearly expressed the view that it a stepping stone to a more liberal abortion regime in the future,” he added.
Video: Dail debates the abortion Bill
Mr Walsh warned the legislation would herald a fundamental shift in the culture of care in Irish hospitals.
“Our healthcare professionals, in making every effort to protect the life of the mother and the child, in accordance with their own guidelines, have made Ireland one of the safest countries in the world for women in pregnancy,” Mr Walsh added.
“But what impact will this legislation have on that culture of care if one day a doctor is striving to save the lives of women and babies and the next they are gowning up to perform a procedure that will result in the intentional death of an unborn child ?”
Earlier Labour TD Aodhan O Riordain said Minister for Health James Reilly should look at the abortion legislation as the start of a debate for a new referendum to remove Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution.
Mr O Riordain said issues such as rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality could not be dealt with in the Bill.
The legislation could only go as far as the Constitution permitted, he said.
However, he called on the Minister for Health to “regard this Bill as the beginning of a discussion on a new constitutional amendment which would remove Article 40.3.3 in order to enable women to protect their health during pregnancy and deal with issues of rape and incest, as well as the sensitive issue of fatal foetal abnormality”.
“These issues cannot be addressed in the Bill before us because of the constitutional constraints under which we must operate.”
Mr O Riordain was speaking during the ongoing Dáil debate on the legislation, which gives effect to the 1992 X-case Supreme Court judgment on abortion.
He described as outrageous, any suggestion that there was no requirement to legislate for the judgment.
“We are required to legislate if we take our Constitution and this Republic seriously, regardless of the substantive issue at hand. We have a Supreme Court and constitutional referendums for a reason.”
He also said it would be a constitutional coup to deal with the issue without legislation. “Those who argue that we should not legislate for the X case or the referendums of 1992 and 2002 imply that we should stage a constitutional coup. We are being asked to disregard the basis of this Republic. We cannot do that.”