Saturday 19 January 2019

FF's McGrath to oppose any attempt to legislate for abortion up to 12 weeks

Michael McGrath
Michael McGrath

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

FIANNA Fáil’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath will oppose any attempt to legislate for abortion up to 12 weeks, putting him at odds with the party leader.

Mr McGrath, who is often tipped as a successor to Micheál Martin, said allowing unrestricted terminations in the first trimester would be “a step too far”.

He said the “black and white choice” being offered by the Government is not where people are at.

Speaking on RTÉ’s ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’, the Cork South Central TD said he has reached an “informed opinion” after studying all of the evidence and has “an open mind” as to whether he’ll take an active role in a referendum campaign.

Asked if his public declaration was a strategic move in order place himself on the side of the majority of the party, Mr McGrath said the suggestion was “nonsense”.

He said having read Micheál Martin’s contribution to the Dáil last week, he agreed “with much of what’s in it but I don’t agree with the conclusion that he reached”.

“Where we are going with this question is not where the majority of Irish people sit on this issue,” he said.

He said if the referendum asks people to fully repeal the Eighth Amendment then “people will be signing up to an unknown”.

Mr McGrath argued there is “no certainty” the subsequent legislation would simply allow abortion up to 12 weeks as some TDs in the Dáil have already talked about setting a cut-off point “much further into the period of gestation”.

“That’s going to be a real problem throughout this referendum,” he said.

On the issue of allowing abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, Mr McGrath said there are “certainly circumstances where compassion for the woman has to be the overriding factor”.

One of the reasons the Committee on the Eighth Amendment recommended 12 weeks was a perceived difficulty of legislating for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormities, rape and incest.

However, Mr McGrath said the difficulties are “not insurmountable”.

He insisted there is no split within Fianna Fáil on the abortion issue despite disquiet over Mr Martin’s decision to back the committee’s report.

Mr McGrath said he will not be attending a meeting of pro-choice TDs tomorrow because he would not like it to be “misconstrued” as a rebellion.

“There shouldn’t be an attempt to try and portray this as a split party,” he said.

Meanwhile on the same programme Education Minister Richard Bruton refused to state his position on the abortion.

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