Fianna Fáil TD criticises Tánaiste’s abortion stance

Lisa Chambers questions merits of extending availability of procedure to rape cases only

Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers says she takes issue with the position taken by Mr Coveney on unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers says she takes issue with the position taken by Mr Coveney on unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

A Fianna Fáil TD has criticised the position of Tánaiste Simon Coveney on proposals to allow for wider access to abortion in Ireland.

The Fine Gael deputy leader yesterday confirmed that he would support efforts to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which affords equal protection to the life of the mother and the unborn.

However, Mr Coveney indicated his reluctance to back open availability of abortion up to 12 weeks, saying instead that abortion covering cases of rape may be sufficient.

Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers says she takes issue with the position taken by Mr Coveney on unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks.

As a member of Cabinet, as a Minister and as a member of the Oireachtas, he hasn’t offered an alternative solution, she told RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke show.

When asked how she would protect the unborn child, she said we would have to trust women to do so. Retaining the Eighth Amendment means rape and incest or cases of fatal foetal abnormality will not be addressed, she said.

“You cannot prove someone has been raped; does she have to present herself to a panel? I don’t see any other solution.”

There are gestational limits she added, and said that abortion up to 12 weeks will not be “unrestricted” as there will be limits and medical guidelines.

Mr Coveney is one of a number of senior government figures who have expressed reservations over the 12-week limit, including Minister for Communications Denis Naughten, Minister of State with responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe and Minister for Rural Affairs Michael Ring.

Three Ministers – Mr Coveney, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and Government chief whip Joe McHugh – have formally confirmed their objection to the proposals.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd has said he supports repeal of the Eighth Amendment as he does not want to see Irish women going abroad for abortions or taking abortion pills without medical supervision.

He told RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke show that he did not believe that any woman who makes the decision to have an abortion does so lightly.

It is important that society respects that decision and the people who make that decision, he said.