Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has said that some anti-abortion campaigners, who oppose the Government's decision to legislate for the X case, are framing the debate in terms that are not helpful, either to their own argument or to the country.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Pat Kenny, Ms Burton referred to comments made by Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday, in which he said some anti-abortion campaigners had branded him as being "worse than Herod".

She said those castigating people in biblical terms are not helping anybody.

"Some of the people who are anti-abortion are almost, I don't know, pitching women in terms of being somehow or other intensely interested in having an abortion, when, in fact, the contrary is the truth, most women want to have a safe delivery of a child."

Ms Burton said that the approach being adopted by Government is about ensuring the safety of women in terms of pregnancy and child birth.

She said that while everybody wants safe deliveries for both a mother and her child, in a small number of cases the life of the mother had to come before the life of the child.

Ms Burton said she did not know "anybody anywhere" who is in favour of abortion on demand.

There is a need to legislate for the rare cases where treatment is required to save a mother’s life, she added.

Meanwhile, Minister of State Lucinda Creighton has said she has "grave reservations" about the threat of suicide being used as grounds for an abortion.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Creighton said the matter ultimately depended on the wording of any proposed legislation and would not commit herself to any course of action until that time.