Green Party is warned voters may not ‘forgive’ them, unless abortion laws are changed before next election

Neasa Hourigan of the Green Party. Photo: Mark Condren

Maeve McTaggart

Green Party TDs will vote on Wednesday to delay a Bill that would remove the three-day waiting period for women seeking abortion services – despite some ministers already stating their support for the issue.

Abortion campaigner Ailbhe Smyth has warned that voters may not “forgive” the Green Party in the next election if abortion legislation is not reformed as soon as possible.

A Bill introduced by People Before Profit (PBP) to remove the three-day waiting period and amend a number of other measures will be debated in the Dáil today.

The Government has since put down an amendment to the Bill, which would delay dealing with it until next May.

Green Party ministers Catherine Martin and Roderic O’Gorman have already expressed their support for removing the three-day waiting period.

However, the Green Party will today support a move to postpone the second reading of the PBP Bill, said a spokesperson, so that the recommendations of a review of the 2018 legislation can be considered.

Suspended Green rebel TD Neasa Hourigan said she would likely be supportive of today’s Bill.

Bríd Smith of PBP said: “The coalition parties should hang their heads in shame at this effort to kick attempts to expand abortion access in this country to touch", adding that she felt the Greens should be “particularly ashamed”.

“It is clear the government parties don’t want to touch this before the next election,” she said

Ailbhe Smyth said it would be “a very real failure” for Greens to vote against the Bill. She warned that if they don’t, “voters won’t necessarily forgive it very easily”.

A government amendment to the Bill asks that it is delayed for 12 months to allow time for the Health Committee to consider recommendations of the Independent Review of the Operation of the Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018.

A Green Party spokesperson said it “welcomes the recent report of the Independent Review of the Operation of the Termination of Pregnancy Act. Many of its proposals on how the existing service could be improved are already underway. Legislative proposals have now been sent to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health to review.

“The Green Party will support the Government’s move to postpone the second reading of the private members bill to allow the committee to complete its work.”