Monday 14 October 2019

Kenny denies archbishop's claim bill hits rights of unborn

Fionnan Sheahan and Lise Hand

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday rejected the Archbishop of Dublin's claim the abortion legislation will give less rights to the life of the unborn.

Ahead of the start of hearings by the Oireachtas health committee into the draft legislation this morning, Mr Kenny said the legislation was about saving the lives of the mother and the child.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (right) expressed concern about the inclusion of the risk of suicide where a foetus is viable.

But Mr Kenny said he had read the Archbishop's views and measures to be introduced would be constitutional and cover the equal right to life.

"So it is about actually saving lives here," he said.

"We need clarity on the protection of the life of the mother and a requirement to do everything that is possible and practicable in the sense of saving the life of the unborn child as well."

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar supported the Taoiseach's view, saying there were protections for the mother and child in the legislation.

"We only have the heads of bill at this stage. The legislation hasn't even been drafted or published and there are hearings now ongoing in the Dail on the heads of bill.


"But based on my understanding of the heads of the bill, there are very strong protections for the unborn in the bill but also very strong protections for mothers to make sure that their lives are safe in pregnancy.

The Archbishop said his concern related to situations where the unborn child is viable at the time a termination is being considered.

"There is a growing impression that is the judgment of the X-Case is the Constitution.

"I believe that it is an interpretation given in a specific case which does not supersede or relativise the clear constitutional right to equal protection for unborn life in the circumstances which I have outlined.

"Indeed under Head 4 it would give the life of such an unborn child less protection than is guaranteed in liberal abortion laws in other countries," he said.

Last night, Pro Life Campaign legal adviser Professor William Binchy hit back at the Taoiseach.

"Mr Kenny's claim that the Bill protects unborn children in the late stages of pregnancy from abortion based on suicidal intent is false.

"The Bill permits abortion at all stages to the very end of pregnancy.

"Where a mother says that, if the baby lives, she will die, the Supreme Court decision, which the Bill faithfully implements, authorises the ending of the baby's life," he said.

Irish Independent

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