Government ‘reflecting’ on abortion legislation, says Reilly

Varadkar to update Cabinet on abortion controversy today

Minister for Children James Reilly. File photograph: Frank Miller / The Irish Times

Minister for Children James Reilly. File photograph: Frank Miller / The Irish Times

Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 10:33

Minister for Children James Reilly has said the Government is “reflecting” on whether abortion legislation needs to be amended less than a year after it was enacted.

Mr Reilly, who was minister for health when the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act was passed, said this morning the Government was monitoring it “very closely” and how it the controversial Act is performing.

“We made it very clear that the Government would monitor this Act very closely and the performance under the Act and we’re expecting an update from the Minister today on that,” Mr Reilly said.

“The Act is only in for nine months so we do need to give some time to study how it is being operated and see how it could be improved in terms of many of the conditions that relate around that.

“Let’s have a look at the investigation [into the Miss Y case] and see what happened there and have all the facts in front of us to see if there are things that need to be modified”

Speaking at the launch of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s 2013 annual report, Mr Reilly was asked if women who were raped should be allowed to get a termination in Ireland. He said.

“Absolutely rape is a dreadful and heinous crime and that the consequences for women who become pregnant as a result of that is an extremely difficult situation. The Government are reflecting on that at the moment and will continue to do so and I don’t think it would be right of me to pre-empt what their views might be before we have even had an initial update from the Minister”, he added.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is due to brief Cabinet colleagues this afternoon on the abortion controversy that re-emerged with the Miss Y case during the summer. However, a final report from the HSE review of the case could be some weeks away. The case centres on a young woman who said she was suicidal due to pregnancy after rape. She was refused an abortion by an expert panel set up under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, which was enacted last year. The woman’s baby was delivered last month by Caesarean section at 25 weeks gestation. The case prompted calls within Labour and Fine Gael for a new abortion referendum.

However, this is considered unlikely during the lifetime of the present Government.