AT least two Fine Gael senators are expected to lose the party whip on the abortion bill.
The Seanad debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill got under way yesterday, and the first vote on the bill is expected to take place tonight.
Senators Paul Bradford, husband of former junior minister and abortion rebel Lucinda Creighton, and Fidelma Healy-Eames were expected to vote against the bill; while FG senator Michael Mullins, was regarded as doubtful.
Some government sources fear the defection of Ms Healy-Eames and Mr Bradford could jeopardise the passage of the Seanad referendum bill, which will be voted on in the Upper House tomorrow.
The Seanad could delay the bill – and possibly the referendum – and some FG figures speculated that the Government might delay the referendum until after the October Budget.
However, while Ms Healy-Eames is taking her votes "one step at a time", it is understood Mr Bradford will vote for the bill.
A number of Independents – such as Fiach Mac Conghail, Jillian Van Turnhout and Marie Louise O Donnell – area also expected to vote for it, which means the Seanad bill should pass.