Votes on abortion Bill expected to begin in Dáil

Kenny rules out removal of threat of suicide from Protection of Life During Pregnancy legislation

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the Dail that removing the suicide clause from the abortion Bill would in his view be counter-productive, as the Constitutional rights in this matter already exist.

Mon, Jul 1, 2013, 21:10

Debate in the Dáil on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill has concluded and a series of votes on the Bill is expected to begin tomorrow, with the Government committed to passing the reforms into law before the summer recess.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out the omission of the suicide clause in the legislation.

He was responding to calls from a number of TDs, including Minister of State Lucinda Creighton, during the Dáil debate today for the clause to be omitted as one of a series of amendments to the legislation.

Speaking during the resumed debate on the Bill, Mr Kenny said he could not unpick the decisions of the Supreme Court in terms of the suicide clause.

He said: “As Taoiseach and head of Government I do not have the luxury to be able to pick and choose which constitutional requirement I will comply with.”

Ms Creighton, who had earlier expressed concern about the clause and called for its omission, sat on the frontbench near Mr Kenny, as he addressed the Dáil.

The Taoiseach also ruled out another referendum linked to abortion during this Government’s term.

“For those who put forward the proposition that this is a first step towards a liberal abortion regime in this country, I say this extremely restrictive Bill is the only proposal that will be brought forward on this issue.”

Mr Kenny also rejected claims that he had broken pre-election promises on abortion. The Taoiseach said “before the election Fine Gael promised we would not legalise abortion in Ireland. We are not and will not.”

Ms Creighton is due to have a meeting with Minister for Health James Reilly today to discuss the prospect of amendments.

She has also called for an amendment clarifying the legal term limit for a termination, saying it would provide a “firm legal basis” to what is already the interpretation of the Government; that viability outside the womb was the limit for carrying out a termination.

Fianna Fáil’s Eamon O Cuiv said he also could not accept the section dealing with suicidal ideation.

Last night Dublin North East TD Terence Flanagan became the fourth Fine Gael TD to say they would vote against the Bill when the second stage is put to the Dáil.

His colleagues; Wicklow TD Billy Timmins, Peter Mathews from Dublin South and Brian Walsh of Galway West, have also said they will oppose the legislation due to the suicide clause.

It is widely expected that other Fine Gael TDs will vote against the Bill.