News Politics

Monday 26 June 2017

Tanaiste Joan Burton supports Varadkar comments voicing concern on eighth amendment

Daniel McConnell

Daniel McConnell

Tanaiste Joan Burton has said she is still opposed to the 1983 eighth amendment saying it does not "serve women well".

Speaking today, Ms Burton echoed controversial comments made by Health Minister Leo Varadkar earlier this week, that the amendment which gives equal status to the right of the foetus as to the mother, is "too restrictive."

The Labour leader said she had opposed the amendment and is still opposed to it.

"In my view, the 8th amendment does not actually service women well when issues of their life, their safety and their health are in question," she told reporters.

She said in the context of the case of a brain dead pregnant woman, she did not wish to comment on the details of the case.

"Well in the context of the current case, I know court proceedings are under way so I don't want to comment on that other than to say it is Christmas time. It is very hard for that particular family, what they are going through," she said.

Describing it is a "very difficult debate," Ms Burton said she did not think it was appropriate that people now need to go through their lawyer to get to their doctor.

"What I want to see around the bed are the doctors not the lawyers. The notion that to get appropriate medical treatment you basically have to go to a lawyer to get to your doctor, I think as a society we have to ask ourselves a fundamental question - is this right?" she said.

She referred to the Government's tackling of the X-Case and ABC Case rulings, notwithstanding the "personal difficulties" for Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fine Gael.

"The government promised, and I know this was a difficult issue for Fine Gael and for the Taoiseach personally to address, to address the issues arising from he X-Case and the ABC cases," she said.

"But what is obvious is that with developments in modern medicine, cases are going to arise from time to time that no constitution actually can set down a definitive answer. Constitutions being meant for other purposes that assessing detailed medical treatment. This is something we should reflect on," she added.

Ms Burton was speaking after Minister for Health Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that he believes Ireland's abortion laws are "too restrictive".

Minister Varadkar was responding to a Private Members motion, tabled by the Independent TD Clare Daly, seeking to remove the current clause in the Constitution equating the lives of a mother and her unborn child.

Deputy Daly said she felt "a little bit mad and a little bit sad", adding that it is regrettable that those supporting the motion that they "have to do this".

Minister Varadkar said it is his considered view as a medical doctor and as Minister for Health, that the 8th Amendment, which bans abortion, is too restrictive.

He said that while it protects the right to life of the mother, it has no regard for her long term health, saying it forces couples to bring to term a child that has no chance of survival for long outside the womb.

 

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