Abortion 'status quo' preferable


SEANAD:PAUL BRADFORD (FG) said that at present the only alternative he could see to the anti-abortion culture of Ireland was the abortion culture of Britain and the US. If that was the alternative on offer, he would prefer the status quo.

Intervening, deputy Seanad leader Ivana Bacik (Lab) said we had a culture in Ireland where 4,000 women were travelling annually to Britain for abortions.

Welcoming the Dáil debate on a Private Members’ Bill on abortion, Ms Bacik said she had been perturbed to hear criticism in the Seanad last Wednesday of the National Women’s Council. The council and the Irish Family Planning Association were to be commended for hosting a presentation during which parliamentarians had heard from four brave women who had undergone terminations in another country “as a result of being pregnant with babies who were not viable and who could not survive beyond birth”.

She was glad Minister for Health James Reilly had stated that this Government would take action on foot of the expert group report, due in a matter of months. She hoped legislation would be produced this year to deal not only with the X case but also with the predicament of those in a similar position to the four women.

David Norris (Ind) said Socialist Party TD Clare Daly had shown remarkable courage in putting forward a Bill on abortion.

Mr Bradford said he had heard the harrowing tales related by the women who had addressed parliamentarians. “You would have to be very sympathetic towards the scenario which they presented.”

But this was a complex matter that could not and would not be solved easily. He hoped the debate coming down the line would be dealt with calmly and rationally.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said he would look at a proposal for the sale of the national convention centre. Tom Sheahan (FG) said close on €1 billion could be saved through such a sale under the disposal of State assets.

Lorraine Higgins (Lab) asked if there had been a quantification of job losses that would result from investors seeking to achieve the best return on acquisitions they made under the disposal programme. She did not want to see a situation where the sale of non-strategic assets would result in an unacceptable level of job losses.

Mr Howlin said he did not agree that job losses would be inevitable.