| 21.3°C Dublin

Reilly rules out extending abortion legislation

HEALTH Minister James Reilly has ruled out extending the proposed legislation on abortion to allow for termination of pregnancy in cases where there are foetal abnormalities.

The Minister was responding to calls by a number of Fine Gael backbenchers to examine legal advice which claims allowing abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities would be compatible with the Constitution.

A campaign group, Termination for Medical Reasons, obtained the legal advice and put their case to the TDs.

However, the Minister said today while he sympathised with the parents involved in these situations it will not be included in the proposed legislation.

“It is a desperate thing for a mother to know she is carrying a child who cannot possibly survive. But I have been advised by my department that under the current Constitution it would difficult to accommodate the need for that under the current legislation.

“I will certainly bear it in mind. I have asked my chief medical officer, along with the Attorney General to review it. But I know we discussed this in some detail in the past and as has been pointed out by others it is not possible under the current Constitution.”

The  campaign group, Terminations for Medical Reasons, presented its advice last week to a cross-party group of TDs and senators.

 Dublin South-Central TD Catherine Byrne later spoke to the Minister to ask him to consider including fatal foetal abnormalities as legal grounds for a termination in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

There are about 1,500 such cases diagnosed in Ireland each year and it is estimated that, in 80pc of pregnancies the parents travel abroad for a termination.

Deputy Byrne said: “I do think we owe it to these women not to have them endure a pregnancy that they know there is not going to be any life at the end of.”

Online Editors