Wednesday 22 November 2017

Fine Gael to set up all-party committee on abortion

Dearbhail McDonald and Aine Kerr

FINE Gael says it will set up an all-party committee to consider the implications of the recent landmark European Court of Human Rights ruling on legal abortion.

The court made its ruling last December after considering the plight of three women who challenged Ireland's restrictive abortion regime.

It found the State had breached a pregnant cancer patient's right to respect for her private life by failing to implement the constitutional right to a lawful abortion.

It found that the only non-judicial means for determining the risk to the patient -- who was in remission -- was a doctor's opinion, which, it said, was ineffective.

Abortion was again centre stage last night after the Pro-Life Campaign published the results of a Red C poll.

The campaign said the poll showed a sizeable majority supported legal protection for the unborn while ensuring all women received necessary medical interventions in pregnancy.


It also pledged to quiz all election candidates on their stance on abortion and to publicise their responses in advance of polling day.

Fine Gael said it would establish an all-party committee, with access to medical and legal expertise, to consider the implications of the court ruling.

Last night cabinet minister Mary Hanafin held a private meeting with a group of pro-life supporters in her Dun Laoghaire constituency.

Ms Hanafin is the daughter of Des Hanafin, who has been a strong anti-abortion campaigner for decades

Constituency rival and pro-choice campaigner, senator Ivana Bacik, claimed it was "good" that Dun Laoghaire constituents now knew where Ms Hanafin stood in the debate.

But the minister insisted she was not playing the pro-life card or trying to make it an election issue. The meeting was part of a series of discussions and meetings with "like-minded" individuals, the Tourism and Enterprise Minister told the Irish Independent.

She said a similar meeting had taken place in 1997.

Opinion polls suggest that Ms Hanafin and Ms Bacik could be battling it out for the last seat in Dun Laoghaire.

Ms Hanafin conceded she wouldn't be meeting with pro-choice groups as she "wouldn't share that view". She denied she was playing up her pro-life stance to try to stave off the election threat from Ms Bacik.

Irish Independent

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