Potential need for six medics in abortion decisions 'impractical’

Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan dismisses plan in proposed legislation on threat of suicide

Jan O’Sullivan’s comments indicate the Labour Party would resist any move to introduce the requirement for six consultants in legislation on abortion. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Jan O’Sullivan’s comments indicate the Labour Party would resist any move to introduce the requirement for six consultants in legislation on abortion. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

A potential legal requirement for six consultants to be involved in any decision to permit an abortion where there is a threat of suicide by the mother appears “entirely impractical”, Labour Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan has said.

Ms O’Sullivan was responding to reports a requirement for assessments by six senior medics would be needed to certify an abortion in such circumstances was included in proposed legislation to deal with the X case.

The landmark legal case in 1992 established the right of a woman to an abortion in Ireland when her life was at risk, including from suicide, but more than two decades on the State has yet to legislate to reflect the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The Coalition Government has pledged to bring forward changes in law and is set to consider draft proposals drawn up by Fine Gael Minister for Health Dr James Reilly.

Ms O’Sullivan’s comments indicate the Labour Party would resist any move to introduce the requirement for six consultants.

“Personally, from what I’ve heard, the idea you would need six professionals seems to me to be entirely impractical,” she told RTÉ.

“But it will obviously be discussed in Government and we will make a joint and unified decision.”

It is unclear when the issue will be debated around the Cabinet table.

Fine Gael Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said he had not seen the draft proposals but accepted there are different opinions, not just between the Coalition parties but also within them.

“There are a number of sides to the debate, but the objective of the legislation is to make sure women know they are safe during pregnancy and that doctors know they can take the necessary decisions to protect the lives of the mother,” he said.

PA

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