Graphic description of abortion ‘inappropriate’, says Gilmore

Fianna Fáil Senator’s speech was ‘scaremongering’

Senator Jim Walsh. Photograph: Eric Luke/Irish Times

Senator Jim Walsh. Photograph: Eric Luke/Irish Times

 

A graphic description of an abortion outlined in the Seanad was “inappropriate and over the top”, the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said.

Fianna Fáil Senator Jim Walsh’s speech on the effects of abortion was “scaremongering” and would not take place under the proposed Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill, added Labour Senator Ivana Bacik.

“I hope we don’t hear much more of this language,” said Mr Gilmore this morning.

“Irrespective of the opinions and points of view that people have on the issue, I think that by and large it has been expressed in a restrained and reasonable way,” he added, while attending a publication of a report by the Irish Exporters Association in Dublin.

Mr Walsh in the Seanad yesterday gave the description of an abortion referring to limbs and intestines of foetuses being pulled out. Case histories showed women who tried to take their lives years after having abortions and who suffered from depression, he added.

Ms Bacik said on RTÉ this morning that most abortions were carried out in the first trimester which was “straight forward”. For abortions after 12 weeks ever effort would be made to ensure the foetus survived, she added. “This legislation will not change existing medical practice ... where doctors have a duty to preserve life of the unborn,” she said.

The “doomsday scenario” talked about by Mr Walsh when the legislation passed was not true and mirrored the divorce debate in the 1980s and 1990s when people opposed to divorce said “the sky would fall in”, she said. “If the doomsday scenario that Jim Walsh and others talk about was true then we would have 150,000 women in Ireland who are deeply traumatised but clearly we don’t,” Ms Bacik said.

But Mr Walsh today defended his speech in the Seanad. If people were disgusted at the description he made then they should be “even more disgusted and appalled” at asking doctors to witness and perform such procedures, he said on Today with Pat Kenny.

He said the move to introduce abortion was “regressing to medieval practices”.