A TD has told the Dáil that there has been widespread intimidation of deputies in recent weeks over the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill.

Independent TD John Halligan also condemned the Catholic Church over its efforts to influence TDs to vote against the legislation.

He said that he, along with many other TDs, has been subjected to abuse in recent weeks by a number of those who oppose the bill.

Politicians have been spat at and people have been calling to their homes after midnight.

There have also been threats to burn TDs' houses, he said.

Mr Halligan said one TD received a threat that her throat would be cut.

Mr Halligan also rounded on the Catholic Church, accusing it of being non-democratic and historically anti-woman.

The church had no right to be the State's moral compass, he said.

It was in no position to lecture anyone on human rights given what he said was its dreadful record on child protection.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said all churches have the right to state their point of view to Government.

Mr Gilmore said views expressed to TDs should be communicated respectfully. He added that no one should crank up the heat in this debate.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he hopes that a rational debate can now take place following the publication of new legislation to allow for the introduction of abortion in limited circumstances.