‘Abortion tourism’ claim challenged by Senators
FF Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill says Bill could lead to women from outside State availing of late-term abortions
Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch: “We are talking here in this Bill about women whose lives are at risk.’’
Fianna Fáil Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill warned that the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill could lead to “abortion tourism’’.
He said a woman from outside the State could avail of a late-term abortion in Ireland because there was no term limit. “Is it the case that the Government is going to say this is only exclusively available to women with Irish passports?’’
Mr Ó Domhnaill also raised the cost implications of the Bill for sections of the public opposed to it.
He said those with a conscientious objection to abortions on suicide grounds would object to their taxes being used to fund them. “Another issue is whether the moneys within the health sector for abortions will be competing with hip replacements, knee operations, disability procedures and cancer treatment.’’
Colm Burke (FG) said the Bill was about the risk to the life of the mother, and to talk about “abortion tourism’’ was incorrect. “If somebody comes in from abroad, they are under their own jurisdiction and will have to go back to have it dealt within their own medical system in that country.’’
Susan O’Keeffe (Lab) said they were legislating for what was already happening and the many doctors, nurses and midwives already had the appropriate training. To suggest that a whole new thing was happening was scaremongering, and referring to “abortion tourism’’ was distasteful.
Ms O’Keeffe said suggesting that any pregnant woman whose life was in danger would think of stepping on a plane to Ireland because life was better here showed a lack of respect.
Aideen Hayden (Lab) said the term “abortion tourism’’ was repulsive. “Is Senator Ó Domhnaill aware that at least 4,000 Irish women leave this country every year to go to another jurisdiction for a termination of pregnancy?’’
Labhras O Murchú (FF) said Mr O Dómhnaill’s question was not about a hypothetical situation but about the law.
Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch said if everybody could make a decision on how their taxes were spent, there would not be a cohesive society. “We are talking here in this Bill about women whose lives are at risk,’’ she added. “They are going to die if they do not have this procedure.’’
Ms Lynch said she had no doubt that anybody on holiday, or a foreign national, or without residency status, arriving at a hospital would be treated in the same way as a fully fledged Irish citizen.
“I spend most of my time in this chamber talking about suicide,’’ she added. “Five-hundred and odd people die every year by suicide and, to be honest about it, I think that is underestimated.’’
When Ms Lynch said she was speaking as a woman, Mr Ó Domhnaill said he was sorry he was not born a woman. “Is that the accusation you are throwing at me?’’
John Gilroy (Lab) said he was a psychiatric nurse for 28 years and anybody claiming suicide was not a genuine risk to the health and life of an individual was denying the facts.