Abortion views of some Fine Gael TDs have shifted


The views of some Fine Gael TDs on dealing with the abortion issue have shifted somewhat in the light of the circumstances surrounding the death of Savita Halappanavar in University Hospital Galway.

Many TDs from a representative group of the party’s parliamentarians contacted yesterday expressed anti-abortion views but most said there was an urgent need for legal clarity on the risk to the mother’s life. More than one said they were reconsidering their views or they were evolving.

Party chairman Charlie Flanagan, a TD for Laois-Offaly, said politicians had to ensure such a tragedy would never happen again.

Like many of his colleagues, he said he wanted to see the recommendations of the expert group on abortion before making a conclusive comment, but he added that the report needed to be acted on.

“The anger of the people is palpable on this, not only at home and abroad. Too many reports in the past have been long drawn out and inconclusive. A strict timeframe is essential.”

Regina Doherty TD from Meath East said her views were evolving.

“I am anti-abortion and pro-life, but I am pro my life and the lives of my children.” She said the question was about medical intervention when a woman’s life is at risk.

“It’s something on which the medical profession deserve clarity. Women deserve clarity around when is my life at risk and what medical intervention is legal in that scenario. If I am to be honest,” she added, “we have had this conversation. Given the result of the X case, the State should act.”

Mayo TD John O’Mahony, who has strong anti-abortion views, described Ms Halappanavar’s death as a terrible tragedy and said he thought it should not have happened even with existing legislation.

Mr O’Mahony said the issue needed to be examined calmly. “I am totally against abortion but also totally for protecting the mother’s life,” he said.

Wicklow TD Simon Harris said he would go no further than repeating what he has stated on Twitter. Mr Harris, who is anti-abortion, tweeted: “In the past I’ve said I didn’t see the need to legislate. Let me assure you today I am reconsidering. There can be no grey area.”

Galway West TD Brian Walsh said the Government could not ignore the issue. “There have been seven governments that have sat on their hands. The Supreme Court ruling has to be legislated for.”

His Galway West colleague Seán Kyne, speaking of the death in Galway, said: “If it is as a direct result of the failure to legislate over the years, since 1992, something has to be done. It is predicated on what the independent report shows.”

Dublin North TD Alan Farrell said his overall reaction to the death of Ms Halappanavar was “one of, frankly, revulsion. As a father you personalise these things and think if your family was in that situation, it does not bear thinking about.”