Lucinda Creighton lays out abortion Bill demands

Minister of State’s highly restrictive amendments will not be accepted by Government

Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton: suggested amendments to the suicide clause would radically change the complexion of the planned law. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton: suggested amendments to the suicide clause would radically change the complexion of the planned law. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Sat, Jul 6, 2013, 12:36


Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton has formally proposed highly restrictive amendments to the abortion legislation which will prove impossible for Minister for Health James Reilly to accept.

Ms Creighton’s suggested amendments to the suicide clause would radically change the complexion of the planned law and her move is therefore seen as the clearest signal yet that she will vote against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill next week.

The Attorney General Máire Whelan, Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White and Dr Reilly worked closely together yesterday to formulate a number of other amendments which the Minister for Health is tabling.

There was some hope in Government circles that these would be sufficient to prevent additional Fine Gael TDs joining the four deputies who have already voted against the Bill.

However, the intentions of Michelle Mulherin of Mayo and Kilkenny’s John-Paul Phelan, regarded as an ally of Ms Creighton’s, remained uncertain last night.


‘Wobbly’
Mayo TD John O’Mahony, previously described as “wobbly” by colleagues, spoke to Dr Reilly about his amendments yesterday and has met him repeatedly in recent days.

The political consequences of voting against the Bill for Ms Creighton are stark: she will lose her job as a Minister of State as well as her membership of the Fine Gael parliamentary party.

Ms Creighton, who is a barrister, has proposed a “care pathway” for women presenting as suicidal involving the formulation of a “suicide prevention algorithm” by a psychiatrist.

If a woman is “still expressing suicidal ideation” after various assessments are carried out, she should be entitled to focused therapy in her home including “dialectical behaviour therapy”, according to Ms Creighton.


Advocate
She also called for an advocate for the preservation of the life of the unborn to be nominated by the Attorney General and for the proposed prison term for those who transgress the Bill to be reduced to five from 14 years.

Dr Reilly’s amendments involve inserting language already contained in the Bill to various sections in order to make more explicit “the need to preserve unborn human life as far as practicable”.

He will also delete a subsection of the Bill which some within Fine Gael feared diluted the principle that “It shall be an offence to intentionally destroy unborn human life”. The subsection was regarded as “superfluous” by Labour.

The deadline for tabling amendments is noon on Monday and the Bill will return to the Dáil for debate on Wednesday with the final vote scheduled for 10pm that night.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday confirmed Dr Reilly and Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White had finalised “clarifying” amendments.