Kenny insists abortion claims alarmist
Ireland will continue to export abortion, says Clare Daly of United Left Alliance
Clare Daly: criticised the requirement for three doctors. Photograph: Frank Miller
Claims the Government’s legislation to deal with the X case will open the floodgates to abortion are alarmist, the Dáil has heard.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted there is no question of abortion on demand through the legislation, the introductory elements of which were published late on Tuesday night.
Mr Kenny told Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams “the Government is required to act in accordance with the Constitution and in line with the X case” judgment which was issued 20 years ago. He said “there is no question or intent in any circumstances for an opening, as they say, for abortion on demand in this country”.
However, United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly said while she was glad the legislation had been released it was the “absolute minimum”.
She said “the clear intention is to make it so restrictive that most women who will not be affected will not even bother and instead they will continue to make the journey to Britain so you can continue to pretend there is no Irish abortion”.
Mr Adams had criticised as alarmist arguments that the legislation would open the floodgates or that it was the “thin edge of the wedge”. He said this was “downright disrespectful to women and impossible in light of the legislation the Government is proposing”.
The Taoiseach agreed with the Louth TD and said “many of the comments made have been disrespectful to women”.
He said Fianna Fáil in government had held two referendums on abortion and the electorate “made their opinion plain”. In those referendums the electorate voted against removing the risk of suicide as grounds for abortion.
He said the health committee would consider the issue and he hoped the legislation could be enacted before the House rose for the summer.
“I would hope that the Bill can be enacted and for the first time in 31 years bring clarity and certainty to this area.”
Ms Daly, however, accused the Taoiseach of reinforcing the “fudged” 1983 referendum by even changing the title of the Bill from the Protection of Maternal Life Bill to the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill.
She criticised Fine Gael backbenchers and said they had in the last two weeks suddenly “found a voice and a conscience”. Where were that voice and conscience “when the rights of born children were being decimated by the cuts in child benefit, by the cuts in social welfare payments to youngsters with a disability and the cuts in education”.
The Dublin North TD said the Fine Gael backbench “obstructing of this legislation is being presented as a battle to protect the unborn, a battle to stop Irish abortion.”
The reality “is that Irish abortion is pretty much the same as every other country’s abortion. It is merely that it is exported out of here.”
The Bill was never going to change this, but Ms Daly said “what it should have done was to ensure that a woman who needed an abortion to save her life, not her health or well-being, could get access to that abortion here at home”.
Ms Daly criticised the requirement for three doctors and asked why the Government ignored the finding of an expert group that two doctors of relevant expertise and training were enough to make a clinical decision.
Mr Kenny said “in the case of a real and substantial risk to a woman’s life arising from self-destruction, additional safeguards are put in place”.