independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

'Safeguards' needed to include suicide in abortion legislation

TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar says he still has concerns about suicide being included as grounds for abortion and there will need to be a "wall of safeguards".

His comments come in the wake of a poll showing eight out of 10 people support legislation for the X-Case ruling on abortion.

Fine Gael has also suffered a dramatic dive in support on the back of the botched handling of the Savita Halappanavar tragedy.

Mr Varadkar also lashed out at pro-choice "extremists" as he said the majority of people do not want abortion on demand.

The minister repeated his call for the Government to consider holding a referendum on abortion, despite Taoiseach Enda Kenny ruling it out.

Contradictory

Asked about the X Case – allowing abortion where the mother's life is threatened – including by suicide, 85pc said they supported legislation in these circumstances; 10pc would not support it; and 5pc said they didn't know.

But a separate question on excluding suicide as a grounds was also supported by 63pc.

Mr Varadkar pointed to the contradictory results of the poll. He said he was in favour of any treatment a mother needs to save her life. But he didn't want the suicide grounds regulated as loosely as it is in British law.

"We are going to need a wall of safeguards to make sure that can't happen," he said yesterday.

Mr Varadkar admitted the Government was caught off guard by the tragedy of Savita Halappanavar's death.

"It is fair to say we were unprepared for it. There is a fair bit of soul-searching."

But Mr Varadkar was critical of the "new extremists" on the pro-choice side of the argument.

Describing it as a reversal of the 1980s when the pro-life campaigners were the extremists, he referred to a Fine Gael TD's office being vandalised by graffiti and the Dail being locked down because of a threat of violence.

"If you don't agree with them, you are a bad person," he said.

The Red C poll in the 'Sunday Business Post' showed Fine Gael suffering a six-point drop in support to put the party on 28pc – its lowest poll rating in four years.

Labour is up one point to 14pc, while Fianna Fail is up one point to 20pc in two years.

Sinn Fein is unchanged at 17pc, but Independents and others parties are up four points to 21pc.

Irish Independent

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