Labour moves to allay FG fears about late term abortions

Fresh Oireachtas hearings on proposed legislation get under way this morning

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: Fine Gael TDs reacted to his warning on late term abortions.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: Fine Gael TDs reacted to his warning on late term abortions.


Senior Labour figures have moved to allay concerns among Fine Gael about late term abortions following Catholic Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin’s warning about this aspect of the proposed legislation.

Some Fine Gael backbenchers with strong anti-abortion views have been demanding a time limit stating how late into a pregnancy an abortion can be performed in cases where the woman is suicidal.

However, a senior Labour source said: “The entitlement is an entitlement to terminate the pregnancy. It’s not an entitlement to destroy the foetus.

“There’s a constitutional protection for the unborn therefore a responsibility on medical people involved to protect and preserve both lives.”

Fresh hearings
With fresh hearings on the Government’s planned abortion legislation getting under way this morning, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the new law would ensure everything “possible and practicable” was done to save the life of the unborn child in cases where a woman was suicidal.

Dr Martin said some unborn children would have less protection than is guaranteed in liberal abortion laws in other countries.

Responding to the archbishop’s letter, Mr Kenny said the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 would not change the law on abortion.

“This is about saving lives and clearly for any assessment of any person that has a difficulty with pregnancy is the requirement to do everything that is possible and practicable in the sense of saving the life of the unborn as well as that of the mother,” Mr Kenny said.

Labour backbencher Ciara Conway, who has pro-choice views, also attempted to allay concerns.

“I understand people’s apprehension about the gestational period of the foetus, but a medical termination to save a woman’s life doesn’t necessarily mean termination of the life of the foetus,” she said.

Survival rate
Dr Martin had said he was concerned about the protection of “perfectly healthy” unborn children at a stage of their development where there was the “clear presumption that they are viable outside the womb”.

Foetuses born at 23 weeks now have a significant survival rate, according to the master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Rhona Mahony.

She said earlier this month there was “no question” of the legislation allowing late abortions and that the Bill required doctors to do everything they could to save a baby’s life.


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