Dáil report: Kenny says abortion legislation is “about saving the lives of women and their unborn babies”

Taoiseach says no new rights will be conferred but legal clarity and certainty will be provided

Mary Lou McDonald: wanted assurance legislation would not become a hostage to fortune.

Mary Lou McDonald: wanted assurance legislation would not become a hostage to fortune.


Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was his “intention and hope” that the abortion legislation would be enacted by the Dáil before the summer recess.

“As I noted previously, this is a sensitive matter which has been around for a very long time,’’ he added. “The intention of the Government is to address it within the parameters of the Constitution and strictly within the law.”

Mr Kenny said no new rights would be conferred but legal clarity and certainty would be provided. “This is about saving the lives of women and their unborn babies, with due regard to what the Constitution says and what was determined by the Supreme Court,” he added.

The Taoiseach was answering Opposition leaders’ questions before the resumed Cabinet meeting to consider the heads of the legislation.

Wanted an assurance
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald asked Mr Kenny what precisely was happening at the Cabinet meeting, adding she wanted an assurance that the legislation had not become a hostage to fortune in some kind of political stand-off between Fine Gael and Labour.

“I want him to confirm that he remains resolved to ensure this legislation is brought before the Oireachtas and put on the statute book by the time we rise for the summer recess,” she added.

“I want him to reassure medical professionals and, in particular, women of child-bearing age that this Government will not fail them as so many have done in years gone by.”

Mr Kenny said he thought there were 28 items on yesterday’s Cabinet agenda. While discussion of the heads of the Bill had begun, it was not possible to conclude it because of time constraints, including the need for him to be in the House.

“The Cabinet will resume its work on the matter after a little while and I hope the heads of the Bill can be published this evening,” he added.

Sensitive matter
Mr Kenny said the heads of the Bill would go to the Oireachtas health committee and everybody would have an opportunity to have a say on what was a sensitive matter.

Ms McDonald said that from the Taoiseach’s response, she imagined the issue of legislating for the X case must have been 28th on the agenda, or perhaps it was dealt with under any other business.

“I do not appreciate the tone of the Taoiseach’s response,” said Ms McDonald. “He knows as well as I do the urgency in bringing forward the heads of a Bill.“I have a worry, which I know is shared by others, that what is happening at Cabinet is a form of posturing, not least from the Taoiseach’s political party,’’ she added.

Mr Kenny repeated it was his intention to legislate, adding that it was 30 years since the amendment was first introduced and 21 years since the last occasion in which people were engaged on the issue.