Government abortion plans 'wise'

 

An opinion poll showing 64 per cent of people are in favour of legislating for abortion together with the expert group report on the matter and this week’s Oireachtas hearings provide a solid basis for the Government proceeding with legislation and regulation, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has said.

Speaking in Cork, Ms Burton said that there was no doubt that abortion was one of most difficult and sensitive issues in Ireland over the past 30 years but she felt the debate at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children this week had helped to clarify complex issues for people

"I think the hearings that have been held have clarified what are a lot of technical, complex, personal, not to mention, moral and ethical issues ... they have done quite a good job in bringing out a detailed reasoned discussion of the very complex issues involved,” she said.

Ms Burton said introducing legislation and regulation of abortion was about “ensuring the safety of women in pregnancy and delivery” at times when a small percentage of them may face dangers and severe medical conditions which can arise “dramatically and suddenly”.

"And to have that discussed by senior doctors such as the masters of Holles Street and the Rotunda and the other medical experts, I think that was extremely helpful for both politicians and for the public at large - I was very impressed by the comments of the masters,” she said.

"I must say that my own view on the opinion poll findings is that it reflects the kind of discussion that I’ve heard among people so I would think that poll is very reflective of my feeling of where people’s views are at."

The Red C poll commissioned by Paddy Power bookmakers found that some 64 per cent of the electorate were either supportive of the Government plan, or in favour of more liberal abortion laws, with the remaining 34 per cent opposed to the legislation in varying degrees.

Some 35 per cent of the 1,000 people polled by Red C said they supported the Government’s decision to introduce legislation that would allow a threat of suicide as a ground of substantial risk to the life of a mother.

The Oireachtas hearings and the expression of the public’s current thinking gives “strength to the Government on proceeding on the way that we’ve decided in terms of both legislation and regulation", Ms Burton said.

Ms Burton acknowledged that the issues were complex and had many ethical and moral implications for people on all sides of the abortion debate but the issue of providing certainty for the medical profession to treat women in difficult pregnancies must be addressed.

"I would be clear most women want for themselves and their daughters or granddaughters, certainty that if a situation arises where their life is in danger, that the life of the mother will be saved and, as the Constitution says, with due regard to the life of the unborn,” she added.

"I think that is what we need and we heard from the doctors involved in all these cases they also want certainty so I think the Government has a made a wise decision in terms of proceeding with legislation and regulation and the next stage is clearly to bring it forward."

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