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Monday 26 February 2018

Government rejects Seanad demands to change name to ‘abortion bill’

Junior minister Alex White
Junior minister Alex White

Michael Brennan, Deputy Political Editor

JUNIOR Minister Alex White has rejected attempts in the Seanad to change the name of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy bill to the “abortion bill”.

Fianna Fail Senator Paschal Mooney said the name of the bill was incorrect and a “sleight of hand”.

“If I saw the title of the bill, I wouldn’t be opposed to it either,” he said.

Fine Gael Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, who has lost the party whip after voting against the bill, called for the name to be changed.

But Junior Minister for Primary Care Alex White said the title of the bill fairly reflected the provisions in the constitution to protect both the life of the mother and the unborn child during pregnancy.

“It’s a fair title, it’s an accurate title and there’s no intention to change the title,” he said.

The Government comfortably won the vote to retain the title of the bill by 39 votes to 13. Ms Healy Eames again voted against – in contrast to her former Government colleagues.

The Seanad is going to be discussing proposed amendments to the bill until 4.30pm today – with further time due to be allocated tomorrow, Friday and Monday if necessary. If the bill completes all stages in the Seanad as expected, it will be sent onto President Michael D Higgins for signature into Irish law.

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