SF motion on X case defeated
The government has tonight comfortably voted down a Sinn Féin private member’s motion calling for the immediate introduction of legislation to deal with the Supreme Court judgment in the X case.
The Government’s amendment to await the publication of the expert group’s report and a Dáil debate was carried by 88 votes to 53. Sinn Féin’s Peadar Toibin who refused to sign his party’s private member’s motion, voted with his party. Former Labour minister of State Róisín Shortall abstained, while former Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten voted with the Government.
During the debate Dublin Mid-West TD Robert Dowds said that if Britain was not on its doorstep, Ireland would have had to introduce abortion legislation years ago to avoid women dying in back street abortions, the Dáil has heard.
The Labour TD said that while he regarded himself as pro-life, he took it to mean that he was pro-life, first and foremost, for the mother.
“If her life is a risk, then the mother should be entitled to whatever treatment she needs, including abortion,’’ he added.
“And we must, and I stress must, provide legislation to reflect this. And the House has failed to do this for 20 years.’’
He was convinced that very few Irish people would insist on a woman who was raped having to bear the child of a rapist.
“What parent or husband would not support a daughter or wife if she was confronted with such an appalling scenario...to whatever she felt was for the best ?’’
He said it was first and foremost a women’s issue. “They should lead the discussion. In fact, if it were constitutionally possible, I think the decision should be left entirely in women’s hands.’’
United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly welcomed the Government’s decision that it would publish the expert group’s report, which she said every citizen would be interested in.
Ms Daly will reintroduce legislation on abortion that was rejected in the Dáil in April with a correction she said Minister for Health James Reilly had recommended. She said the debate had really highlighted how “inappropriate it is to have in our Constitution a clause that equates the life of the unborn with the life of the woman. That is the root of this problem.” It was inappropriate that women’s health was in the Constitution, she said.
She also supported call by the family of Savita Halappanavar for her case to be dealt with in the public domain. The debate follows Ms Halappanavar’s death in hospital last month, 17 weeks into her pregnancy. Her husband Praveen said doctors had refused an abortion when she was miscarrying, because a foetal heartbeat was still present.
Ms Daly said however “you have to ask the question after four expert groups already deliberating, what expertise is really going to astound us when we do get to see the report”.
She said other jurisdictions “manage to deal with it quite simply without the quagmire that the Irish State has created for itself”.
Labour TD Ann Phelan said she was not prepared to wait another 20 years for clarity on the issue. “No longer can we deny basic human rights to women in difficulty. We are prepared to legislate as soon as we have all the recommendations before us.” The Carlow-Kilkenny TD said she had voted against Ms Daly’s abortion Bill motion in the absence of information from the expert group.