Monday 11 December 2017

Reilly wants record kept of doctors who approve terminations

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

(note - replaces previous version)

HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly plans to record the registration numbers of doctors who approve abortions, in a further move to reassure wavering Fine Gael backbenchers.

It means that he will be able to analyse how many abortions have been approved by an individual doctor in his department's annual report on how the law is working.

Dr Reilly's proposed amendment is designed to reassure Fine Gael TDs, who fear that the new bill will lead to an "opening of the floodgates" in relation to abortion.

It inserts a new requirement to record the registration number of the doctors who certify that a woman needs an abortion due to a physical or mental health risk to her life.

This is in addition to the existing requirement to record the registration numbers of doctors who actually carry out the abortions.

After the Dail voted through the second stage of the abortion bill by 138 votes to 24, the Oireachtas Health Committee is going to spend at least seven hours this week considering 89 proposed amendments.

At the committee, Dr Reilly rejected claims that the bill would do nothing to prevent a repeat of the case of Savita Halappanavar, who died in hospital after requesting a termination when she was having a miscarriage. He said the bill would provide clarity to doctors in such a situation.

"I think we all know there was a myriad of circumstances that led to that terrible tragedy," he said.

However, Dr Reilly dashed the hopes of pro-life Fine Gael TDs by proposing only minor changes to the bill. None of his 17 amendments will prevent women from getting an abortion if they are suicidal, in a move which will disappoint pro-life Fine Gael TDs.

Many of them – such as Junior Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton and Fine Gael Mayo TD John O'Mahony – hope the bill will be amended at committee stage.

SURVIVAL

At the committee, Dr Reilly also insisted that it was "utterly untrue" to say that the abortion bill would allow an abortion to be carried out on a viable foetus if a woman was suicidal in the late stages of her pregnancy.

"I wish to reassure all members the bill does prohibit the killing of a viable foetus," he said. However, Dr Reilly said he was working with the Attorney General to come up with an amendment to make it very clear there was a clear onus on doctors to preserve life.

Opposition TDs tabled several amendments to allow for abortion where an unborn child had no prospect of survival.

Irish Independent

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