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Taoiseach Enda Kenny rules out abortion referendum, defends under-fire James Reilly

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny today defended under-fire Health Minister after the draft text of the abortion legislation states that six doctors will be required to approve a termination where there is a risk of suicide, contrary to previous statements by Dr Reilly.

And despite serious tensions over the framing of the legislation breaking out both within Fine Gael and also between the two coalition parties, with a sizeable number of Fine Gael TDs expressing opposition to including a suicide clause, the Taoiseach reiterated that holding a fresh referendum was not an option.

"I do not propose to have another referendum," he said.

He added: "In the preparation of any piece of legislation, there are numerous drafts that are always prepared from basic ideas. All of these are meaningless until the heads of the bill are actually presented to Government by the responsible minister, and approved by Government for consideration by the committee and the preparation of the bill itself."

Earlier in the week, Minister Reilly appeared to reject the proposal, stating that "it is not the case and would never be the case" that six consultants would be involved in the process.

Mr Kenny also denied that the legislation on abortion would change the existing law in any way and was being put in place to deal with the Supreme Court ruling of 1992. "The law is not being changed on abortion.

The law is being codified and the law when clarified will deal strictly with the constitution and stay with in the law, will deal with the X case and will do so without brining in any new rights here," he said.

"It is a complex matter, it is one which requires sensitivity and understanding."

Online Editors