Monday 19 February 2018

'Why should society have to wait for the dinosaurs in Fianna Fail?' - Row erupts at Oireachtas abortion committee

TD Ruth Coppinger. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
TD Ruth Coppinger. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

Shona Murray

A row has broken out at the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment over members’ reluctance to make a decision on which legal option the group should recommend to replace the amendment.

According to TD Ruth Coppinger, an agreement was made for the committee to vote on the recommended course of action after it finishes its first module which deals with alternative legislation to the Eighth Amendment.

The committee is looking at six options ranging from a simple repeal of the Eight Amendment, thereby allowing the Oireachtas legislate for abortion to the option of adding amended abortion legislation in to the constitution.

Following the Fianna Fail vote at the party’s Ard Dheis last week which confirmed the party’s position as anti-abortion and anti-repeal of the Eighth Amendment, some members wish to delay a vote now for fear of dividing the committee.

The other concern is that if a vote is put forward and fails, then it will seriously hamper the credibility of the committee.

Members reluctant to vote now say they want more time to consider the issues.

However, Ruth Coppinger said that the legal module is finished and therefore no new legal evidence is due to come before the committee.

“Next week is the anniversary of the death of Savita and I think it will cause a lot of dismay, if we continue kicking the can down the road with women’s health.

“Why should society wait for Fianna Fail to catch up with the rest of us; have to wait for the dinosaurs in Fianna Fail are ready to come in to the 21st Century."

Members are meeting twice today, where they’ll first hear from experts Professor Peter Boylan, former master of Holles Street Hospital and Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran President-elect of the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology who also led the HSE’s investigation in to the death of Savita Halappanavar.

It will reconvene at 5pm to discuss the range of options in front of it which will likely lead to the final wording of the referendum.

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