Shortall wants ‘sunset clause’ in abortion legislation
Bill an ‘Irish solution to an Irish problem’ without another referendum, says Independent TD
Róisín Shortall: an annual review of the operation of the legislation is required so that its impact is closely monitored. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Another referendum is necessary to adequately deal with the complex issue of abortion, former Labour minister of state Róisín Shortall has told the Dáil. “Anything else is likely to be an Irish solution to an Irish problem, which doesn’t, in fact, provide a solution at all.”
Ms Shortall, now an Independent TD, said “it is impossible to see how this most complex of issues can be dealt with adequately and in a way which reflects public opinion without revisiting the constitutional provision”.
The Dublin North West TD said the majority of people “want a sympathetic but robust system that would rule out abortion on demand but would allow for abortion in a number of specific cases such as, for example, where the woman’s life is at risk, in the case of fatal foetal abnormality or in the case of rape and incest”.
However, she called for a “sunset clause” on the legislation because “there remains genuine concern that the inclusion of suicidal ideation as a ground for termination could result in a significant rise in the rate of terminations”.
Ms Shortall said “an annual review of the operation of the legislation is required so that its impact is closely monitored. A sunset clause would address many concerns,” she said, because the Bill as it stood was not acceptable.
She urged term limits for abortion under the suicide clause.
Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis hit out at the proposed punishment for a woman who procured an abortion outside the law as unacceptable.
“The fact that men are getting suspended sentences for brutal rapes while the Government is proposing a potential 14-year sentence for a woman procuring an abortion is absolutely shocking.”
The Dublin North West TD said “women must have access to termination if their lives are under threat, including by suicide, if they are victims of rape or if a substantial risk to health is apparent” .
The Government “must trust women and doctors, and treat them with respect rather than with suspicion”.