Tuesday 12 December 2017

Reilly hits out at Walsh 'torture' claims

Michael Brennan and Brian McDonald

HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly has hit out at Fianna Fail Senator Jim Walsh for claiming that his abortion bill would lead to the "torture" of unborn babies.

It came after Mr Walsh had been criticised by his own party leader Micheal Martin for giving graphic descriptions of abortion techniques during the Seanad debate on the abortion bill last week.

But Dr Reilly criticised the Wexford politician for talking about barbaric practices which were tantamount to torturing an unborn baby to death. "He talked of torture – this implies the wilful infliction of pain, which certainly this bill is not about," he said.

Dr Reilly also criticised Mr Walsh for his graphic descriptions of abortion techniques which were not being used in Irish hospitals.

"I find it regrettable that Senator Walsh has engaged in dramatic – and what some people would describe as offensive and upsetting – descriptions of procedures which do not take place in this country and will not be taking place in this country," he said.

However, Mr Walsh was defiant about his decision to describe the techniques in detail, saying he had been seeking reassurance from Dr Reilly that they would not be used.


"I have no intention of sanitising my language on any stage of the debate so as to facilitate the passage of horrific practices into law," he said.

Mr Walsh was supported in his stance by Fianna Fail Senator Marc MacSharry, who said that there was no "watershed" in the Seanad, and Independent Senator Ronan Mullen, who said that it was not "children's television". However, Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said that people had to be respectful with their language.

"It's not children's TV but nor is it Fox News. We aren't here to shock or apall people with our language," she said.

Dr Reilly also clashed with Independent Senator Ronan Mullen, who has been a vociferous opponent of the bill.

"Senator Mullen talked of a profound disrespect for life.

I utterly reject that," he said.

Irish Independent

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