Tuesday 21 November 2017

Gilmore will tell Dail new abortion laws 'fall short'

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore’s abortion speech will further fuel Fine Gael concerns.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore’s abortion speech will further fuel Fine Gael concerns.

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore will spark renewed Fine Gael backbench concern over abortion legislation today by telling the Dail that the Government's proposals do not go far enough.

Mr Gilmore's comments will come as the Fine Gael leadership works to prevent a larger-than-expected revolt over the issue.

He is expected to say the laws "will fall short in the face of hard cases" such as rape and fatal foetal abnormalities, the Irish Independent has learned.

Labour sources say the laws must be extended in future, which some in Fine Gael will see as confirmation of their fears that the current legislation will lead to a liberal abortion regime. Mr Gilmore will cite rape and fatal foetal abnormalities in his Dail speech today on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, and sources say these will have to be dealt with by future referendums.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has already alarmed many in Fine Gael by saying it is an "inevitability" that abortion laws will be extended in the coming years.

He is one of the most liberal in his party on abortion, and would arguably be closer to the Labour Party position than the majority Fine Gael view.

CONTRADICTION

European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton said this is a "direct contradiction" of what Taoiseach Enda Kenny has promised, and that she is "totally opposed" to Mr Shatter's view.

TDs in the junior coalition party have already caused anger in Fine Gael by describing the current legislation as a "starting point" which will be built on by future governments.

The party's previous stated position was that it would legislate for the X Case, and Mr Gilmore will today indicate the desire to go further.

He is expected to tell the Dail: "Am I proud that this Government is enacting a law to protect women's lives in pregnancy? Yes, I am. Do I believe that this is a perfect piece of legislation? I do not.

"I have no doubt that it will fall short in the face of hard cases. It cannot offer a woman, facing the trauma of having to carry, for nine months, a baby that will never survive outside the womb, the compassion that she deserves.

"Nor can it offer compassion to a woman or a girl who is the victim of rape or incest, and pregnant against her will.

"But I am a democrat. The people voted in 1983 to insert an equal right to life of a mother and her unborn child into our Constitution, and 30 years later we are giving effect to that right. Nothing more. But nothing less."

Meanwhile, Fine Gael TD Terence Flanagan has become the fourth party member to say he will vote against the Government unless his concerns around the suicide issue are dealt with.

Irish Independent

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