Six days set aside for Seanad abortion Bill debate

Dáil will have to be recalled if any amendments accepted

Seanad Éireann. Photograph: Alan Betson

Seanad Éireann. Photograph: Alan Betson

Fri, Jul 12, 2013, 13:47

THE Government’s Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill will begin its passage through the Seanad on Monday.

Debate on the contentious legislation which passed all stages in the Dáil shortly after midnight last night by 127 votes to 31, will commence on Monday afternoon and six days have been set aside for its completion.

At least 40 of the Upper House’s 60 members are expected to speak on the second or introductory stage debate of the controversial Bill, when senators are due to be allowed 10 minutes to set out their opinion.

Fine Gael defections are also expected in the Upper House after five of its TDs voted against the legislation in the Dáil, with Senators Paul Bradford and Fidelma Healy-Eames expected to oppose the Bill. Fianna Fail’s 13 senators will have a free vote on the issue. In the Dáil 14 of its 19 male TDs voted against the overall legislation.

The Bill gives effect to the 1992 X-case Supreme Court judgment allowing for abortion in cases to prevent suicide.

The second stage debate is expected to last two days - Monday and Tuesday.

The committee stage debate in the Seanad chamber, when senators will consider amendments to the Bill, will begin on Wednesday and two days have been set for that stage of debate - Wednesday and Thursday.

Report and finals stage of discussion on the Bill have been tabled to take the following Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd, with the Seanad going into recess afterwards.

If amendments are accepted, the Dáil, which is expected to go into recess next week, will have to be recalled.

Once the Bill is passed in the Seanad, it is sent to the President, who can either sign it, sign in his Council of State and/or refer it to the Supreme Court.