independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

All our local TDs vote for the life / abortion bill

Deputy Michael Creed: one side in debate demonised.

ALL four Cork East and all three Cork North West TDs voted in favour of the government's proposed abortion legislation this week as the controversial bill makes its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Dáil passed the second stage of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill by 138 votes to 24 on Tuesday night, with the proposed legislation passing to committee stage. The third stage sees the bill go before the Oireachtas' Health Committee where it will be reviewed and where amendments may be proposed.

Cork East TDs Sandra McLellan (SF) and David Stanton (FG) spoke on the second stage debate in the Dáil in the last week, as did Cork North West TDs Aine Collins (FG) and Michael Creed (FG).

Deputy McLellan accused some campaigning groups of trying "to change the nature of the debate, framing it in absolutist and extreme language."

"We have seen some individuals and groups behave in a way which has done nothing to support their views and their objections. We have heard of politicians being threatened and intimidated," she said.

Deputy Creed also referred to the correspondence he received on the issue, but was critical of what he described as attempts to "demonise one side of the debate based on the actions of a small minority."

"I would say that 99% of [correspondence] has been respectful and conveyed in an appropriate manner. While in most cases we have had to agree to differ on the issue, those involved behaved in an exemplary manner," he said.

Deputy Creed said that medical professionals could not be expected to rely on "unsatisfactory" medical guidelines alone and that this legislation was more restrictive than the current process.

He did, however, note that he was concerned about aspects of the bill, and noted that there is no legal representation for the unborn amongst its provisions.

Deputy Collins said that she was "deeply saddened" that it took the Dáil over 20 years to address the Supreme Court's ruling on the X Case and suggested that the legislation fails to address other issues relating to crisis pregnancies.

"Rape, incest, abnormalities and many other circumstances are not covered in this Bill. We need to look at how we support crisis pregnancies to give women the support they need in situations that are not covered by this legislation - that will be for another day and for the Irish people to decide," she said.

Fine Gael Deputy David Stanton said that abortions may be taking place in Ireland, but no records are being kept because of a lack of legislation. He also said he was "surprised and perturbed" to learn that the Supreme Court ruling on the X Case made abortion on grounds of suicide constitutionally possible.

"We do not know what is happening. We do not know how many terminations are taking place in hospitals, what hospitals or clinics are carrying out abortions or under what circumstances these procedures occur. This is a dangerous situation in the context of the constitutional and legal position under the X case," he said.

Deputy Stanton outlined his concerns surrounding the Bill, noting the suicide element and the lack of time limits in the legislation.

Deputies Tom Barry and Michael Moynihan and Minister Seán Sherlock did not speak on the debate but also backed the bill.

The bill has just finished the second of five stages all proposed legislation must go through before becoming law.

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