Tuesday 20 March 2018

Reilly vows to block abortions if hospitals abuse new legislation

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

HEALTH Minister James Reilly has moved to assuage the concerns of Fine Gael TDs over abortion as some deputies and senators make a final decision on whether to support the controversial legislation.

Dr Reilly says he will have no problem suspending abortion services in hospitals if he feels they are being abused and too many abortions are being given.

The minister opened the debate on the Government's abortion legislation, but there will not be a Dail or Seanad vote on the issue until next week at the earliest.

A number of Fine Gael TDs and senators who have indicated privately they will vote against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill say they are not willing to publicly show their hands yet.

Some told the Irish Independent that they are leaning towards opposing the legislation, while others want to consult with their local organisations over the weekend.

TD Peter Walsh claimed between eight and 12 Oireachtas members could vote against the bill, although other sources says it is unlikely to be this high.

But Dr Reilly sought to allay fears the new legislation could lead to 'abortion on demand' by saying "any attempt to abuse this legislation will be thwarted".

He also said he will use his power to stop hospitals giving abortions if they abuse the new legislation.

"Information on these rare terminations will become publicly available," Dr Reilly said.

"If the bill is abused I will have the power to suspend it (abortion services) and I will not be afraid to exercise this power."

He also said that, as a doctor, he believed the bill "strikes the right balance" in "providing legal clarity around rights which already exist".

"I would not support this Bill if I did not believe it struck this balance."


Fianna Fail health spokesman Billy Kelleher said he will be supporting the bill personally, after party leader Micheal Martin granted his TDs a free vote.

Independent TD Mick Wallace said the "proposal for suicidal, pregnant women in this Bill is barbaric" and "tantamount to torture".

He added: "It tells women mental health is not real health. It tells them the State does not trust them, that they must be interrogated and prove themselves not to be liars."

Irish Independent

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