Women's council criticised over abortion agenda


SEANAD:PASCHAL MOONEY (FF) said he concurred with the concerns expressed by Rónán Mullen (Ind) in relation to the activities of the National Women’s Council on the issue of abortion.

The council was a State-funded body, therefore there was a responsibility on the Government to ensure that whatever that body did, particularly in an area of controversy such as abortion, it took an even-handed view, that it ensured that both sides of the argument were put forward and it did not pursue a particular agenda.

Mr Mullen said it was a very sad situation that a Bill was being brought forward in the Dáil seeking to legalise abortion. The Bill had many flaws, not least that it would provide for abortion without time limits; that it disregarded the consent of women in certain situations, and that it would even imprison conscientious objectors.

It was based on an outdated notion that there was some kind of psychiatric ground for abortion, as had been canvassed in the X case, although no psychiatric evidence had been heard.

The question was no longer whether abortion was ever necessary for mental health reasons. The question the experts were considering was in what circumstances did abortion pose a mental health risk for some women.

Katherine Zappone (Ind) said time had been lost in addressing the call by Independent Senators for the development of effective responses to deal with prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said it was important that we were aware of the fact that prostitution was an issue that in reality had been part of the human world for thousands of years.

“I’m not sure we’re going to invent a solution that other countries going back through the millennia have failed to invent.”

There were issues of human behaviour, of human conduct and of ensuring that they dealt with matters in a manner that did not simply create a legal regime that drove this industry further underground to the detriment of those engaged in it and of those who resorted to it, he said.