Saturday 16 November 2019

TDs set to vote on abortion laws

Lucinda Creighton has said she will vote according to her conscience
Lucinda Creighton has said she will vote according to her conscience

The coalition Government is bracing itself for a backbench revolt as TDs vote on contentious abortion laws.

Four Fine Gael TDs have already confirmed they cannot support the legislation, which will allow limited abortion in Ireland, and up to six others, including junior minister Lucinda Creighton, are expected to rebel.

The Minister for European Affairs warned she has grave misgivings about the reforms and would vote according to her conscience.

It is understood some TDs will initially vote with the Government legislation before rebelling after the bill passes through latter stages and amendments are rejected.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out pleas from Ms Creighton to remove the suicide clause.

It is the most contentious issue in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 as it provides legal grounds for a termination if an expectant mother is assessed by medics as being a suicide risk.

Fine Gael TDs Peter Mathews, Terence Flanagan, Billy Timmins and Brian Walsh will lead the revolt after insisting they cannot support the legislation as it stands.

A number of other Government TDs have claimed they too would like to see changes to the bill before it is passed into law, while members of Fianna Fail and some independent TDs have also indicated they will reject it. Despite this, the bill is expected to pass.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the Taoiseach has been clear that backbench Fine Gael TDs will lose the party whip and their position in the parliamentary party.

Ms Fitzgerald added: "We are not bringing in any new law. We are codifying and clarifying what is already there. I want to emphasise this, we are talking about a woman's life, where a woman's life is at risk. We are talking about a very strict, precise, focused piece of legislation."

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