TDs express misgivings on suicide clause

 

Fine Gael: More than a dozen Fine Gael TDs have indicated publicly ahead of today’s Cabinet decision on abortion that they have reservations about legislation that would include the risk of suicide among the grounds for abortion.

While most of the TDs have said inside and outside the Dáil that they will study the proposals and partake fully in the extended debates, a number have publicly stated they oppose the proposition that the threat of suicide constitutes a risk to the life of the mother.

They include the Mayo TD John O’Mahony and James Bannon, who represents Longford and Westmeath.

Speaking ahead of today’s announcement by Cabinet, Mr O’Mahony said: “There is a lot of concern about the suicide. I will support any measures that supports the life of the unborn and that of the mother.

“I have to be convinced about any inclusion of suicide. I feel very strongly about this. People know my views. I will be voting according to my views on it,” he said.

When asked about suicide being included in the legislation, he said: “I hope that good judgment will prevail and I hope that [suicide] will be outside the legislation.”

Wicklow deputy Simon Harris said yesterday he had come to the view that legislation would be needed.

“I am very confident that the Taoiseach and the Government will ensure that safeguards are put in place.”

He said the most important point was to prevent the same circumstances happening in Ireland as happened in Britain after it legalised abortion in 1967.

During debates in the Dáil and in public over the past two weeks, a number of other Fine Gael TDs have identified suicide as a concern.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics on Sunday, Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton said: “I have concerns about the whole question of suicide and how it can be defined.”

Soul searching

Yesterday in the Dáil, Meath West deputy Regina Doherty outlined the degree of “soul-searching” she has done over the past few months as she has struggled with the difficult issues involved.

“The uncertainty for many of us stems from the issue of including suicide in legislating for the X case. It is difficult for somebody who has a genuine fear that once the door is open it will not be capable of being closed,” she said.

There is nonetheless a diversity of views within Fine Gael on the issue, and there is significant support within the parliamentary party for legislation that includes suicide among the grounds for abortion.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance Brian Hayes said in the Dáil that now was the time for the middle ground to find its voice. “It is possible to be both pro-life and pro-choice. We can simultaneously respect the right to life of the unborn and the life of the mother,” he said.

The Kerry South TD Brendan Griffin said last night he had no issue with legislation that would protect a mother’s life.