Senior Sinn Féin TD suggests allowing 12-weeks unrestricted abortion needed for rape cases

The party does not currently support the proposal to allow abortions up to 12 weeks

SF TD Pearse Doherty Photo: Tom Burke

Cormac McQuinn

A SENIOR Sinn Féin TD has said he doesn’t see how abortions can be provided in cases of rape unless unrestricted terminations up to 12 weeks are allowed.

Sinn Féin does not currently support the proposal to allow abortions up to 12 weeks.

The measure was suggested by the Oireachtas Committee due to the difficulty of legislating for cases of rape and incest.

Mr Doherty said he will make his views on the issue known when party bosses meet next week.

But he said Sinn Féin does support abortion in “limited circumstances” including rape and that this “needs to be done in a humane way”.

Mr Doherty added: “I see no evidence how it can be done otherwise than what is being recommended by the committee.

“But we’ll have a full discussion at the ard comhairle in relation to that.”

Sinn Féin is in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment and allowing abortions in cases of rape, incest, fatal foetal abnormality and where the life or health of a mother is at risk.

Unlike Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil the party is not allowing a free vote on abortion in the Dáil and party bosses expect Sinn Féin TDs to comply with the party line on the issue.

The government is drawing up a proposed law that would include allowing abortions up to 12 weeks. The legislation would be put to a Dáil vote if the Eighth Amendment is repealed in the referendum.

Sinn Féin has indicated that it will hold a special ard fheis which may change its stance on the 12 weeks issue.

It has not yet decided if this ard fheis will be before or after the referendum.

Cork South Central TD Mr Ó Laoghaire said he personally supports the 12 weeks proposal but added: “I will be voting in line with the party position, whatever that party position may be coming out of an ard fheis”.

He said he thinks the ard fheis to consider Sinn Féin’s policy should “happen as soon as possible”.

He added: “I don’t think there’s any question but that the Sinn Féin position will be very clear going into the referendum.

“It will be vote repeal.”

Mr Doherty was asked about the attendance of two of his party’s TDs Peadar Tóbín and Carol Nolan at the anti-abortion march in Dublin last Saturday.

Both TDs are at odds with party policy as they oppose repealing the Eighth Amendment.

Mr Doherty said: “I think it’s up to individuals to decide whether they want to participate in other events or not.”

But he added: “The party is very clear that the party votes in one way in relation to this issue.”