Kenny responds to archbishop concerns on abortion

Bill would make clear the need to do everything to protect unborn - Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has responded to concerns by the Archbishop of Dublin that proposals to legislate for terminations would give some unborn children less protection than is guaranteed under liberal abortion laws in other countries. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has responded to concerns by the Archbishop of Dublin that proposals to legislate for terminations would give some unborn children less protection than is guaranteed under liberal abortion laws in other countries. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has responded to concerns by the Archbishop of Dublin that proposals to legislate for terminations would give some unborn children less protection than is guaranteed under liberal abortion laws in other countries.

Mr Kenny said he had seen Diarmuid Martin’s letter in today’s Irish Times, his first public intervention in the abortion debate “ The bill that is proposed here obviously doesn’t change the legislation on abortion,” Mr Kenny said.

Mr Kenny said the legislation would make clear the need to do everything to save the life of an unborn child. This would become clear when the bill is produced following three days of Joint Oireachtas Health Committee hearings — tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday, he said.

“ So it is about actually saving lives here. We need clarity on the protection of the life of the mother and a requirement to do everything that is possible and practicable in the sense of saving the life of the unborn child as well,” Mr Kenny said.

Mr Kenny made the comments to reporters as he launched Eircom’s new fibre broadband network at the company’s headquarters in Dublin.

In a letter to The Irish Times , Dr Martin expressed particular concern about one aspect of the Government’s plans to legislate for abortion where there is a threat to the life of the mother because of the threat of suicide.

Dr Martin said his concern relates to situations where the unborn child is viable at the time a termination is being considered.

He said his anxiety is that it would be permissible for doctors to certify that the medical procedure necessary to avert the risk to the woman’s life consisted of the “termination of her pregnancy”. This could happen in such a manner that would bring an end to the life of the unborn before delivery at a stage when the child would be delivered alive if a different method of termination were used.

The only medical treatment in line with the constitutional protection of such an unborn child would be one in which the child was safely delivered, Dr Martin said. Reliance on a “destructive abortion” in such a situation would be in patent contrast to the meaning of article 40.3.3 of the Constitution.

More than 50 medical and legal experts will give evidence to a special Oireachtas committee hearing on the Government’s draft abortion legislation over three days, beginning tomorrow.