Legislation will 'confirm restrictive law'
Legislation will do no more than confirm and codify arguably the most restrictive laws in the developed world on the termination of pregnancy, Minister of State for Health Alex White has told the Dáil.
“Doctors need to know that in the exercise of their discretion within the law, that they have the protection of the law,’’ he added.
Mr White said the expert group report was clear in disposing of the suggestion that the issue could be dealt with simply by guidelines.
Legislation was required.
He said he shared the view of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter that a case of foetal abnormality, with no hope of survival, should, “in all humanity’’, be grounds for the availability of a termination. However, that was not an issue before the House in the current debate.
He was speaking during the resumed debate on a Private Members’ motion, moved by Clare Daly of the United Left Alliance, providing for legislation arising from the Supreme Court judgment in the X case.
The Government defeated the Bill by 101 votes to 27 with the support of Fianna Fáil. Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín, who opposes abortion legislation, did not attend.
Inertia and negligence
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the inertia and negligence of successive governments must end now. “The X case ruling, and the legislation that must arise from it, is not a formula for a liberal abortion regime,’’ she added. “It is not a prescription for what is termed abortion on demand.’’
Independent TD Mick Wallace said Ireland’s ban on abortion “is a clear indication of the State’s interference” with a woman’s sexual and reproductive health, her right to health and dignity, to control her own body and her right to choose. “.
Labour TD Aodhán Ó Riordáin said his party, which promised to legislate for the X case, had no difficulty with the abuse, vulgar letters and disruption it received “when we know that what we want is to protect women, to vindicate their constitutional rights”.
Hitting out at some anti-abortion campaigners, he said, “how dare you call yourselves ‘pro-life’ if you would let a situation persist that endangers women’s lives rather than introduce legislation which the Supreme Court and Irish people have demanded?”
Moving too quickly
Minister for Health James Reilly said some people felt the Government was moving too quickly to address the issue. “May I respectfully suggest that the people of Ireland have waited long enough for their politicians to do what is right and necessary.’’
He said it was also important that the House debate the expert group’s report and he expected 20 hours of Dáil debate.
Independent TD Catherine Murphy highlighted the lack of urgency in dealing with the issue.
Independent John Halligan said if the time frame was a problem “let’s sit through the Christmas holidays, deal with this, get this legislation through the Dáil and be done with it. ”
Last night, Sinn Féin Party Whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh, reacting to Peadar Tóibin’s non appearance said: The party whip applied and all Sinn Féin TDs were expected to be present and vote in accordance with the party position this evening. This is a matter that the party will have to deal with.
Meanwhile, TDs were unable to leave Leinster House in their cars for a period last night as the gates remained closed with gardai standing in front as chanting protesters remained outside.