Monday 26 January 2015

Minister O'Sullivan: There will be no abortion referendum in this government's lifetime

Published 18/08/2014 | 13:46

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said that there would be no further moves to change abortion laws in the lifetime of the present Government.

She was speaking after weekend revelations that a baby was delivered by caesarian section on a young woman at the centre of the first known test of the restrictive abortion legislation.

Ms O’Sullivan said it was a “very difficult case and everyone is concerned for the woman the baby”.She said she did not know all the details  and so could not comment, but added that “there does appear to have been some time delay, but don’t know the reason”.

Asked whether she felt the legislation was working, she said “I don’t think we can make a decision based on one case”.

She added:  “I don’t think the legislation is flawed but the legislation is within the context of constitution that exists, and the legislation can  only go so far in that context.  

“Within the parameters that the government found itself in,  this is best possible legislation that could be introduced,

“It isn’t possible to deal with broader issues under terms of constitution and realistically, there isn’t going to be referendum in the lifetime of the Government”.

The minister said the legislation was  being monitored and she believed “a future government will have to look at another referendum”.

She said there were issues that could not be addressed under the constitution as it is currently framed,  but believed that the abortion issue  would need to be revisited in the future.

“I do think there are issues, particularly where there is not a viable foetus, where the baby is not going to survive”.

The woman at the centre of the case,  a foreign national,  had her baby delivered by caesarian section after going on hunger strike.

She had feared for her life on non-medical grounds as a result of falling pregnant and told doctors she was suicidal.

After being assessed by an independent panel, as provided for under the new abortion laws, the woman’s request for a termination was refused.

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