Monday 25 September 2017

Law must go further in future, say Labour ministers

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

LABOUR ministers say they want abortion legislation to go further in future to deal with issues like fatal foetal abnormalities, and insist there will be no substantial change to the current proposals.

The firm stance from the junior coalition partner comes as many in Fine Gael try to secure last-minute changes.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said she hoped abortion could be extended in future once it was proved the legislation did not lead to a liberal abortion regime.

"This legislation is extremely confined, recognising the existing constitutional position and no more," the Dublin West TD said.

"I would like to believe that, in time, and once it becomes clear that this legislation had not opened any 'floodgates' – to use a term uttered by a number of deputies – as a just and humane society, we would look further.

"I would, for example, like to believe we will seek to ensure that a mother would not be obliged to carry her child to full term when the tragic reality is that the child would not survive outside the womb."

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore also cited fatal foetal abnormalities and abortion in cases of rape or incest as areas that must be addressed in future.

And Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said the Government would not be legislating for the X Case as it had promised if the suicide clause was removed.

"I think the Government has got the balance about right, the two parties committed to what they said they would do, to legislate for the X Case following the Supreme Court injunction and following the European Court of Justice decision," Mr Rabbitte told 'Newstalk' radio.

"There may well be technical amendments or finessing of language or whatever . . . but substantial amendments I just don't see as being realistic."

Fianna Fail is split on the issue, with Sean O Fearghail, Eamon O Cuiv, Brendan Smith, and Charlie McConalogue saying they will vote against the bill, while Robert Troy is undecided. Sinn Fein TD Peadar Toibin has also indicated he will oppose the bill.

Independents Noel Grealish and Colm Keaveney are also voting against, while Roisin Shortall and Maureen O'Sullivan are looking for amendments before supporting it.

Irish Independent

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