Walsh warns against voting for abortion

Senator says ‘barbaric practices’ will be imported if legislation passed

Fianna Fáil Senator Jim Walsh: criticised the Minister for failing to accept amendments. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Fianna Fáil Senator Jim Walsh: criticised the Minister for failing to accept amendments. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland


Jim Walsh (FF) has warned his Seanad colleagues that they will be supporting the importation of barbaric practices to kill the unborn if they vote through the abortion legislation today.

“Make no mistake about it, you will be legalising everything that I described at second and committee stages,” he said yesterday. Mr Walsh insisted that the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, which is scheduled to pass its final stages today, would not assist pregnant women in terms of mental illness or suicidal intent.

He said he had described barbaric practices which were tantamount to not only killing the unborn baby but, in fact, torturing it to death. “That is why some of you were disgusted by my comments.”

He had no intention of sanitising his language so that “we will facilitate the passage of horrific practices into our laws in Ireland and legalising what is barbaric”.

Minister for Health James Reilly said he found it regrettable that Mr Walsh had engaged in “dramatic and what some people would describe as an offensive, upsetting description of procedures which do not take place in this country and will not be taking place”.

Ivana Bacik (Lab) said that all Senators should be respectful in the language used. Colm Burke (FG) said he knew from clinics that people listening to the debate were being traumatised.

No parliament watershed
Mr Walsh’s party colleague Marc MacSharry said that regardless of anybody’s view on the issues, parliament did not have a watershed. “People are entitled to points of view.”

Ronan Mullen (Ind) said there was a profound lack of respect for life in the legislation. Amendments were being put down but the Minister was not interested.

He said Mr Walsh deserved credit for insisting that they were in a parliament. “This is not children’s television,” he added. “It is a parliament and a place where sometimes hard things have to be said.”

Ms Bacik said that remarks made in the House last week did cause offence. “It is not children’s television, but neither is it Fox News,’’ she added. “We are not here to shock.’’

Dr Reilly said the Bill was all about respecting the life of a woman and her unborn child.

Mr Walsh criticised the Minister for failing to accept amendments, including one moved by himself declaring that medical procedures in the Bill were “in accordance with current medical practice in Ireland and circumscribed by regulation”.

He said that while he wanted the amendment accepted, it did not satisfy him on the substance of the Bill because it still meant that unborn babies would be unnecessarily killed under section 9 dealing with suicidal ideation.

Mr Walsh said the Bill defined the abortion procedure as including the prescribing by a medical practitioner of any drug or medical treatment. “It does not say what is excluded because nothing is excluded.”