Seanad passes abortion legislation by 39 votes to 14

Fine Gael and Labour senators all supported the Bill

The Seanad has passed the controversial Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill by 39 votes to 14.

The Seanad has passed the controversial Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill by 39 votes to 14.


The Seanad has passed the controversial Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill by 39 votes to 14.

As expected Fine Gael and Labour senators supported the Bill, which legislates for the 1992 X-case Supreme court judgment, where a pregnant woman is suicidal.

Just three of Fianna Fáil’s senators - Ned O’Sullivan, Averil Power and Mary White supported the Bill.

During the debate Ms White rebuked her own party and praised the Government for bringing the legislation forward.
Ms White said serious issues had been neglected by previous government “including those of my own Fianna Fáil party” for many years, she said.
“I think the Government for having the courage to bring this Bill forward and I am confident that I represent the position of the majority of Irish people.”
She added that legislators could not have an a la carte approach to accepting the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, which had legislated for the X-case.
John Gilroy (Lab) said it was agreed in the debate that abortion was sometimes necessary. “All we disagree about is the circumstances in which it is necessary.”
Ronan Mullen (Ind) said the State was introducing an abortion regime. He told the Seanad the Bill should be altered from containing a “subjective, good faith test” to a more “objective” test, requiring medical personnel to have regard to the relevant clinical evidence.
Ned O’Sullivan was alone among the Fianna Fáil’s 12 male senators to support the legislation and overall just 25 per cent of the 33 members of the parliamentary party, including 19 TDs supported the Bill.

Thomas Byrne (FF) was one of six absent senators for the vote, who also included Michael D’Arcy (FG), Marie Moloney (Lab), Sean Barrett (Ind), James Heffernan (Ind Lab) and Feargal Quinn (Ind).

President Michael D Higgins will be asked to sign off on the legislation, thereby enshrining it into Irish law, later this week.

The New York-based Centre for Reproductive Rights said Ireland has taken a crucial step to clarify the criteria for legal abortion, but women’s health and lives will still be at risk.   
But its director of the global legal program at the Center for Reproductive Rights Lilian Sepúlveda said:  “Once enacted, Ireland’s abortion law will do nothing to help women who seek to end their pregnancies for many other reasons besides a threat to their lives. This includes women who are pregnant due to rape or incest, who are carrying fetuses with severe impairments, and who face other serious risks to their health.
“Essential reproductive health care is a fundamental human right, which Ireland is obliged to fulfill. The Irish government must continue to act and bring forth legislation that will expand women’s access to safe and legal abortion and the full range of essential reproductive health care.”


The Vote

How the Seanad voted on the Bill:


Thomas Byrne (Absent)

Mark Daly (No)

Terry Leyden (No)

Marc MacSharry (No)

Brian Ó Domhnaill (No)

Lábhrás Ó Murchú (No)

Paschal Mooney (No)

Darragh O’Brien (No)

Denis O’Donovan (No)

Ned O’Sullivan (Yes)

Averil Power (Yes)

Jim Walsh (No)

Mary White (Yes)

Diarmuid Wilson (No)


Terry Brennan (Yes)

Colm Burke (Yes)

Eamonn Coghlan (Yes)

Paul Coghlan (Yes)

Michael Comiskey (Yes)

Martin Conway (Yes)

Maurice Cummins (Yes)

Deirdre Clune (Yes)

Jim D’Arcy (Yes)

Michael D’Arcy (Absent)

Imelda Henry (Yes)

Cait Keane (Yes)

Tony Mulcahy (Yes)

Michael Mullins (Yes)

Hildegarde Naughton (Yes)

Catherine Noone (Yes)

Pat O’Neill (Yes)

Tom Sheahan (Yes)


Ivana Bacik (Yes)

John Gilroy (Yes)

Jimmy Harte (Yes)

Aideen Hayden (Yes)

Lorraine Higgins (Yes)

John Kelly (Yes)

Denis Landy (Yes)

Marie Moloney (Absent)

Mary Moran (Yes)

Susan O’Keeffe (Yes)

John Whelan (Yes)


David Cullinane (Yes)

Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (Yes)

Kathryn Reilly (Yes)


Sean Barrett (Absent)

Paul Bradford (FG) (No)

John Crown (Yes)

Fidelma Healy-Eames (FG) (No)

James Heffernan (Lab) (Absent)

Fiach Mac Conghail (Taoiseach’s nominee) (Yes)

Rónán Mullen (No)

David Norris (Yes)

Mary Ann O’Brien (Taoiseach’s nominee) (No)

Marie-Louise O’Donnell (Taoiseach’s nominee) (Yes)

Feargal Quinn (Absent)

Jillian van Turnhout (Taoiseach’s nominee) (Yes)

Katherine Zappone (Taoiseach’s nominee) (Yes)

Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke only votes if there is a tied result