Two FG Senators criticise Bill and then vote against Government

Pro-Life Campaign denies attempting to trade votes with Senators

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill provided for abortion, Fine Gael Senator Paul Bradford claimed. "It goes against the very fabric of my party, and what we said before and during the general election campaign.''

Party colleague Fidelma Healy-Eames asked why the Government was proceeding to sanction the taking of an innocent baby’s life when there was no evidence that this would save the baby’s life. “The evidence shows that abortion may damage the woman mentally.’’

The Senators later voted against the Government on the Bill and automatically lost the party whip.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the Pro-Life Campaign yesterday challenged the claim on Monday by Fine Gael Senator Imelda Henry that activists were asking Senators to oppose the Bill in return for voting to save the Seanad.


“The Pro-Life Campaign confirmed that it will not be taking any position on the Seanad abolition referendum, and the only purpose for which members have been contacting Senators is to urge them to vote against the abortion Bill on the grounds that it is not life-saving but life-ending.’’

During yesterday's resumed debate Mr Bradford warned the Bill would force Irish medics to practice medicine without science. "When I look across the globe at countries which have so-called liberal abortion laws, including the United States, Britain and most of the countries in Europe, are women there in a so-called better place medically, or from a health perspective, than the women in this country?''

Best interests
Ms Healy-Eames said it was not in the best interests of women and their unborn babies to railroad through legislation for abortion simply because the Labour Party wanted it. "Have we completely lost it, have we learned nothing from other countries?"

Trevor O Clochartaigh (SF) said the legislation dealt with cases in which there were difficulties and complications. “Medical complications do not discriminate on grounds of race, social class, intellectual ability or other factors.’’

Mr O Clochartaigh said “any of our wives, sisters, daughters or friends could find themselves in need of an intervention of this type, and I want doctors to have legal clarity as to what they can or cannot do, not just for those close to us but for any woman having a baby’’.

Mary Moran (Labour) said the veiled threat of excommunication for supporting the Bill from the Catholic Church was difficult to understand.

She asked about “the children who were abused and who had their innocence robbed by members of the clergy and, worse, had it covered up by other clergy’’.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times