Heated exchanges in Seanad over abortion Bill
House likely to pass Bill, which FF’s Walsh says will not aid pregnant women, tomorrow
There were heated exchanges in the Seanad today as the House considered the final stages of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. Photograph: Alan Betson.
There were heated exchanges in the Seanad today as the House considered the final stages of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
Fianna Fáil Senator Jim Walsh, a strong opponent of the Bill, said there was no evidence it would assist pregnant women in terms of mental illness or suicidal intent.
He said the Bill defined the abortion procedure as including the prescribing by a medical practitioner of any drug or medical treatment. “It does not say what is excluded because nothing is excluded,’’ he added.
Mr Walsh said he had described barbaric practices which were tantamount to not only killing the unborn baby but, in fact, torturing it to death. “That is why some of you were disgusted by my comments,’’ he added.
Ivana Bacik (Lab) intervened to say that all Senators should be respectful in language. She was supported by Colm Burke (FG) who said he knew from clinics that people listening to the debate were being traumatised.
However, Mr Walsh’s party colleague, Marc MacSharry, said that regardless of anybody’s view on the issues, parliament did not have a watershed. “People are entitled to points of view,’’ he said.
Minister for Health Dr James Reilly said the idea that a foetus could feel pain at 21 weeks, more than a new born child, was utterly unfounded. “I know it is not part of this discussion, but several people have raised it,’’ he added.
The Minister said he found it regrettable that Mr Walsh had engaged in “dramatic and what some people would describe as an offensive, upsetting description of procedures which do not take place in this country and will not be taking place’’.
The Bill is scheduled to pass all stages tomorrow.