If cyberbullying can cause suicide, then suicide by pregnant girls ‘probable’
Cork North Central TD Billy Kelleher supports the suicide clause in the legislation. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
If young girls had taken their lives because of cyberbullying it was “quite possible and very probable” that a young pregnant girl could decide suicide was the only option, Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher told the Dáil.
The Cork North Central TD, who supports the suicide clause in the legislation, said: “I remember deputies on all sides of the House raising the issue of cyberbullying and the fact that young girls have taken their lives because they were cyberbullied.
“Now if we believe, if we truly believe, that a young girl could take her life because she is cyberbullied, well, then it is quite possible and very probable a young girl – alone, afraid vulnerable – who looks at the pregnancy test kit and finds she is pregnant, that she may, because of that vulnerability, decide that suicide is her only way out.”
He continued: “And that is not something we can dismiss in the abstract. That is real, has happened and will happen again, as night follows day. That young girl has a few options currently: continue with the pregnancy; she may go to England; decide to get on the internet and decide to procure abortive pills. But in the extreme circumstances, she may decide that ending her life is the only way to deal with that crisis pregnancy.”
His party colleague Éamon Ó Cuív, said, however, that the Oireachtas should “picture in our minds some future Dáil that will be confronted by people seriously disabled because of this section of the Bill, who will sue the State for introducing a Bill that led to them having lifelong disabilities, based on introducing bad medical practice in our laws”.
Minister for Health Dr James Reilly said he agreed that the Bill was restrictive. But, he said, he could not ignore the Constitution and the Supreme Court decision in the X case. “It is not true to state that a woman has to be at death’s door.”
Peadar Tóibín (SF) said he had no doubt that this legislation would “end up before the Supreme Court”.
“Members present who are overpaid for the job they do will not have an opportunity to bring their experience, knowledge and understanding to the content of the Bill.”
Ciara Conway (Labour) said suicide was real and, in 2010, 100 women died in this country very tragically because of suicide. Ms Conway said they needed to reflect on the damage that was being done to mental health advocacy.
“For decades we have campaigned to erode the stigma around mental health issues,” she added. “All of this is being undone by saying it is frivolous and not a medical issue.”
Michael Healy-Rae (Ind) congratulated Lucinda Creighton on the stand she had taken. “It is good to see politicians put this issue and their views before their careers.”