Wednesday 21 February 2018

Cabinet rift over issue of abortion ends - bill will be voted upon tomorrow

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Damien Eagers
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Damien Eagers
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A rift in Cabinet over the issue of abortion has been defused.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has accepted advice from the Attorney General Máire Whelan in relation to a bill that has been tabled by Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit (AAA/PBP) TD Brid Smith.

At Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, ministers failed to take a position on the issue of the bill - which proposes that the the maximum 14 year sentence for an abortion be replaced with a €1 fine.

Ms Zappone sought additional clarify from the AG and has now agreed to support a government amendment.

The bill will be voted upon tomorrow.

“The minister sought and received advice from the Attorney General,” a spokesman for the minister said.

“That advice set out that in the AG's view the Bill, if passed, would be subject to successful challenge on the basis of unconstitutionality,” the spokesman added.

But Ms Zappone has rejected an argument made by some Fine Gael ministers that replacing the sentence with a €1 fine could lead to cases of domestic violence.

“However, Minister Zappone is not convinced by arguments that an abusive partner who causes a miscarriage intentionally would not – under the proposed Bill - be liable to a higher sanction, as non-fatal offences such as assault would still apply.”

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