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No free vote on abortion, warns Minister James Reilly

GOVERNMENT TDs will be subject to the party whip when it comes to voting on the abortion legislation, Health Minister James Reilly insisted today.

He ruled out a free vote on the issue, despite acknowledging that there are still “a number of people at either side of the bell curve who will possibly not have their concerns met.”

The Minister was speaking after yesterday’s publication of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill which allows for pregnancy to be terminated in cases where a pregnant woman is at risk of suicide.

Asked about the tone of the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting yesterday in the wake of its publication he said it was “calm and considered.”

He had a discussion with European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton – who has indicated her disquiet at the inclusion of suicide risk – but he did not elaborate on what was said.

He believed that people are now a “lot more comfortable” with the proposed legislation but said he was a “realist” and there will be people who continue to have reservations.

“We will do everything we can over the coming number of months as we continue to discuss and debate the issue to accommodate those .I hope the discussions can continue in a calm way.”

The proposals will go before the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children for discussion the week after next and people will get a chance to air their views on the legislation there.

Fianna Fail’s position towards the legislation is also regarded as softening with the party split on the issue. A free vote is being mooted in the party.

Online Editors