Call for referendum on taxpayers’ funding abortion services

FF TD becomes emotional as she says she will not opposes passage of legislation

Independent  TD Carol Nolan has called for a referendum on how the termination of pregnancy will be funded after abortion becomes legal in the State. Photograph:  Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

Independent TD Carol Nolan has called for a referendum on how the termination of pregnancy will be funded after abortion becomes legal in the State. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

 

Independent TD Carol Nolan has called for a second abortion referendum to test whether taxpayers want to fund terminations of pregnancy.

Speaking during the debate on the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill, Ms Nolan said “we face a serious violation of the civil rights of the unborn”.

She added that this was “ nothing short of an insult to the men and women of 1916 and it greatly undermines the values of the 1916 proclamation which makes reference to cherishing all the children of the national equally”.

Ms Nolan said taxpayers did not vote to fund abortion and that included many who voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment. She said a survey had found that 60 per cent of people were not in favour of taxpayers’ funding abortion and called for a second referendum.

“Party leaders are adept at voting twice on the same issue and Nice and Lisbon come to mind.”

Fianna Fáil TD Mary Butler became emotional as she said she strongly supported the retention of the Eighth Amendment and the right to life of every unborn child. However, she added she had pledged after the referendum “that I would not obstruct or oppose the passage of the legislation through the Dáil”.

She said viability for a foetus came at 23 to 24 weeks but the Bill’s definition was deliberately vague and seemed to allow for abortion late into the second and third trimester.

Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae said he did not want nurses or doctors to have to retire because they were going to be forced to refer people for abortion.

“I’ve always had the opinion of people wanting to opt in rather than opt out. I thought that would make more sense.”

He believed the Government was reluctant to take amendments and that the people had primarily voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment rather than being definitive about the abortion Bill that would be introduced.

Independent TD Noel Grealish said that 60 per cent of people did not want taxpayers’ funded abortion which would cost €20 million a year. He said people who voted against the abortion did not want their taxes to go to abortion services.

However, Independent TD Séamus Healy said the referendum was carried in a situation where there was full public consultation and transparency. The heads of the Bill were available and it was a very well informed decision.

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Donnchadh O Laoghaire said “it is legitimate to vote against this legislation but I believe it is the right thing to support this legislation”.

He said the referendum vote of the electorate had a “formal legal effect”.

Former Fine Gael TD Peter Fitzpatrick said that 66 babies born alive after abortions were let die in the UK in one year and the legislation should allow doctors to provide lifesaving care if a baby survives an abortion.