Reilly claims Bill’s legal clarity will save lives
Abortion legislation strikes right balance, says Minister
Dr James Reilly: said it would become crystal clear to everybody if certain hospitals or medical professionals were responsible for a disproportionate number of terminations.
Minister for Health James Reilly has said he will not be afraid to suspend institutional facilities if the abortion legislation is abused.
“For the first time, there will be legal clarity that any terminations are only carried out where the risk to the woman’s life has been fully assessed and certified by specialists,” he said. “For the first time, information on these rare terminations will become publicly available.”
Dr Reilly said it would become crystal clear to everybody if certain hospitals or medical professionals were responsible for a disproportionate number of terminations. “More importantly, Irish women can be assured that everything possible will be done to save their lives in Irish hospitals.”
Opening the debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, Dr Reilly said he had worked as a doctor for over 30 years. “Sometimes we are presented with the most difficult and challenging problems to deal with.”
“I firmly believe that this legislation strikes the right balance in providing legal clarity around rights which already exist, while at the same time providing the clearest reassurance that any attempt to abuse this legislation will be thwarted.”
“I consider myself pro-life in general,” he said. “I am pro-life in the sense that I believe we should do everything possible to vindicate the life of the unborn.”
Mr Kelleher said he did not believe the Bill would introduce a liberal abortion regime in Ireland. Legislators had a constitutional obligation to vindicate the life of the unborn.
Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the necessary legislation was welcomed by his party.
“We must safeguard the lives of women. We must provide legal clarity and ensure there are clear guidelines for clinicians,” he said.
“And, let no one forget, we must act at all times in strict adherence to the people’s wishes as laid down in the relevant articles in the Constitution.”
Mr Ó Caoláin said he was baffled by the arguments of some who described themselves as pro-life but who would, in their rigid adherence to a black and white view of the world, countenance the loss of a woman’s life – always some other woman’s life, or the life of another’s wife or partner or daughter.
Clare Daly (Ind) said Ireland had enshrined the right of women to travel for an abortion but would not allow them to have the procedure in Ireland. “That is a denial of rights to more than 150,000 Irish women who have been forced to leave these shores in past decades.”
Mick Wallace (Ind) said, while the Bill was important symbolically, very few women in Ireland would benefit from it.
“Women who require medical treatment will continue to be exported out of this country under a veil of silence, hidden, stigmatised and away from the support network of family and friends,” he said.
Twenty years too late
Richard Boyd Barrett (People before Profit) said the debate and legislation were at least 20 years too late. “Thousands more women, whether the Bill passes or not, will be forced to travel in the dead of night, with all the stigma associated with abortion, which this legislation sets out to reinforce with its continuing criminalisation of abortion,” he said.
Debate on the Bill resumes next week.