Action on abortion issue in New Year - Enda Kenny

Tuesday 18 December 2012 11.56
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Enda Kenny said the Cabinet would decide what course to follow tomorrow
Enda Kenny said the Cabinet would decide what course to follow tomorrow
Anand Grover said he was concerned about the health of women in Ireland in particular
Anand Grover said he was concerned about the health of women in Ireland in particular

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the Cabinet will decide what course to follow on the abortion issue tomorrow and would proceed to act on the issue in the New Year.

Mr Kenny also said that there will not be a free vote on the issue.

He said he did not want to force through any measure, but he did not want it to drag on interminably either.

TDs debated the issue in the Dáil today.

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch said she believed the Government would opt for a mixture of both legislation and regulation on abortion.

Ms Lynch said when the Government does make its decision, it will not meet the expectation of the vast majority of Irish people.

She said all the Government can do is legislate and regulate in such a restrictive manner that there will be a future case that will demand our attention.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald said the Government is going to do what no government has done before, by bringing clarity on the matter.

Ms Fitzgerald said the illusion that there is no abortion in Ireland needs to be stopped.

She said this existed because its close neighbour is providing the service to 4,000 Irish women every year.

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy said the Government had to act on the issue and said it was not enough to say that someone had a right to travel.

Mr Murphy said that while he was against abortion, he was in favour of a free vote on the issue.

Labour TD Michael Conaghan said that he favours the availability of abortion in limited circumstances, but said he thinks "killing babies is wrong".

He said that this was about women's health and that when the mother's life is at risk, the choice must be on the side of the mother's life.

Meanwhile, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health Anand Grover has said abortion should be an option for women where their health is affected and not only where the life of the mother is at risk.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Mr Grover said he is concerned about the health of women around the world, but in particular the health of women in Ireland following the death of Savita Halappanavar.

Ms Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks' pregnant, died at University Hospital Galway following a miscarriage.

The rapporteur, who is currently in Ireland, said that what happened to her "would never happen in India".

Elsewhere, in a statement this evening the Pro Life Campaign has warned the Government that if legislation for the X Case is introduced that it will lead to abortions "on demand".

Dr Ruth Cullen said: "Claims that legislation for the X Case is a compromise between pro-choice and pro-life sides is nothing more than a political ploy to make any legislation appear restrictive.

"The reality is, however, that any legislation for the X Case would blur the distinction between life saving medical interventions in pregnancy and induced abortion, the sole aim of which is to intentionally end the life of the baby."

Separately, the Life Institute has slammed the UN Rapporteur's comments as "wholly offensive and inaccurate".

Spokeswoman for Life Institute Niamh Uí Bhriain said that Mr Anand should withdraw his remarks.

She said the comments were a "grave insult to Ireland, to her people, and to the excellent maternal health care specialist who have made Ireland one of the safest places in the world for a mother to have a baby".

She added that if the Minister for Health James Reilly "had any respect for our doctors he would demand that Mr Anand apologise for the his wholly offensive and inaccurate remarks".