| 9.3°C Dublin

Fionnan Sheahan: Kenny will have to put his name on the line

In Enda they'll have to trust. The Cabinet has finally agreed the wording of the abortion legislation. But the work is only beginning for Taoiseach Enda Kenny as he aims to convince the public and his backbenchers alike of the merits of this legislation.

Regarded as conservative and pro-life, Mr Kenny will be as reluctant as any to pass any legislation that liberalises abortion.

Mr Kenny will have to stake his reputation on the bill to ensure it achieves popular support.

His personal imprimatur for the Protection of Maternal Life Bill 2013 will be required to assure people it will meet the criteria of the X Case ruling – but go no further.

The X Case was entirely based around the case of a threatened suicide, so it was clear the parameters of the legislation were going to include these grounds.

In the end, the Cabinet came down in favour of three doctors assessing such cases, as recommended by the expert group on the A, B, C case – a far cry from the six doctors Health Minister Dr James Reilly sought to railroad through.

The Taoiseach has sent out clear signals to windy backbenchers at every opportunity stressing that this legislation is about "two lives" – the mother and the child.

However, Mr Kenny's choice of stock pro-life phrases won't assuage the concerns of those backbenchers who are implacably opposed to the introduction of a suicide clause.

The manner in which the drafting of the legislation was handled by Dr Reilly ensured there were suspicions on both sides of the argument.

Ministers didn't actually get a copy of the draft legislation until yesterday morning.

After the false start and spats a week ago, the Coalition couldn't afford to not reach agreement.

But Mr Kenny and his ministers have a substantial amount of work to do.

Irish Independent