Senator Ronan Mullen calls abortion Bill an assault on 'dignity' of children

Heated exchanges in Seanad debate on proposed fatal foetal abnormality Bill

Sen Ronan Mullen: said some babies diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormalities went on to live for months and even years. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Sen Ronan Mullen: said some babies diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormalities went on to live for months and even years. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

There were heated exchanges in the Seanad when Independent Ronan Mullen criticised the abortion Bill defeated in the Dáil on Tuesday.

The Bill, introduced by Independent TD Clare Daly, allowed for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

Mr Mullen said the Bill was “a direct assault on the dignity and rights of some very vulnerable children’’.

“It was not,” said Independent Marie-Louise O’Donnell. Independent James Heffernan said Mr Mullen had made “an outrageous statement’’.

Mr Mullen said he wished that Ms O’Donnell had met some of those families who were told their children had fatal abnormality and, yet, the babies went on to live for months and even years, in some cases.

He said it was bizarre to hear various media commentators, and people on the left, calling for freedom of conscience for Labour TDs.

Mr Mullen asked where they were in 2013, during the passage of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, when Fine Gael TDs were following their consciences.

“The Senator should sit down . . . he is coming here now giving us definitions of dignity,” said Ms O’Donnell.

Gerard Craughwell, an Independent, said the Government had frequently advised the Oireachtas and the public that it had to accept the Attorney General’s advice on legislation. The question arose as to why such weight was attached to the advice of one person, he added.

“Why is one barrister’s advice held in such high esteem? Is the Law Library not full of contradictory voices and opinions?’’

The issue, he said, must be discussed in the light of Tuesday’s Dáil debate.

Labour’s John Gilroy said it was important the House recognised the authority of the office of the Attorney General. The Constitution required the Government not to enact legislation thought to be unconstitutional, he added.