Cabinet discusses proposed abortion legislation

Updated: Tuesday, 23 Apr 2013 23:11

Draft heads of legislation to deal with abortion are expected to be brought to Cabinet next week, a Government spokesperson has said.

Despite expectations, Minister for Health James Reilly did not bring the draft heads of the legislation to Cabinet today.

It is understood this was because Fine Gael and Labour did not agree that the legislation was ready to be discussed.

It is unusual for a minister to have to have approval from both parties in Government before bringing draft legislation forward.

The spokesperson said there had been "extensive" discussion of the proposed legislation today, with various perspectives brought forward.

Further discussions will take place in the coming days.

Once cleared by Cabinet, the draft heads will be discussed by the Oireachtas Health Committee before the final legislation is drafted.

On his way into the Cabinet meeting this morning, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was hopeful the Government would have legislation that would allow for abortion in limited circumstances enacted before the summer recess.

In the Dáil this afternoon, there were strong exchanges between United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly and Mr Kenny over the legislation.

Speaking on behalf of the Technical Group, Ms Daly asked Mr Kenny to introduce legislation as soon as possible.

She asked him what he was waiting for and questioned if he viewed women's lives as less valuable than men's lives.

Mr Kenny said Ms Daly's comment was "disgraceful".

Earlier, Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said abortion is "not black and white" and that there are differences of opinion but these must be respected.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the Government must ensure that "unreal barriers are not erected" in abortion legislation.

He said he would not like to see barriers preventing women whose lives were at risk from obtaining the medical treatment they require to save their lives.

Abortion to be discussed at Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis

Meanwhile, four motions on abortion will be debated at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis this weekend.

Two of the motions deal with suicide as a threat to the life of the mother.

One motion calls for a referendum before any legislation is introduced that allows a threat of suicide to be a ground for abortion.

The other seeks to commit Fianna Fáil to opposing any legislation that allows for abortion as a basis for suicide.

Frontbench spokesman Dara Calleary said that any motions passed by the Ard Fheis will guide the formation of policy, but they are not binding on the parliamentary party.