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Abortion law won't split FG, insists Kenny

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Enda Kenny. Photo: Damien Eagers

Enda Kenny. Photo: Damien Eagers

Enda Kenny. Photo: Damien Eagers

ENDA Kenny says he is hopeful that the new abortion laws will nolt cause a rupture within his Party's ranks.

The Taoiseach said the measures will finally give "certainty and clarity" to both pregnant women and medical professionals.

Crucially, the legislation includes the provision for suicide in certain circumstances – an issue that has caused deep tensions among Fine Gael's 75 TDs.

Already a number of the Party's politicians, as well as medical professionals, expressed serious concern about the measures contained in the new Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

 

Fears

Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin said she fears the measures may lead to abortion on demand, while her party colleague Senator Fidelma Healy Eames called on the government to "go back to the drawing board".

However, there were also mixed reaction to the bill from members of the medical profession, with one doctor describing the measures as a possible abuse of women's rights.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Bernie McCabe said doctors already have the capacity themselves to assist people with suicidal thoughts.

"The Tanaiste said very rightly this morning that suicide can be a threat to the life of the mother, I can only agree with that," she told RTE's Morning Ireland.

"But we have treatment for suicidal ideation, it exists and as a result, we're in a position as basic community psychiatrists to provide the opportunity for a woman to get better and then look at her options in a non-distressed non-suicidal state and that may assist her decision making," she added.

The measures present three scenarios whereby abortions may legally performed by medical practitioners:

• In an emergency when it may be performed by a single doctor.

• In the case of the risk to the life of the woman as a result of an illness, such as cancer. In this situation, two doctors must certify there is a real and substantial risk to the mother's life.

• When there is the risk of suicide. Three doctors must give the green light for an abortion – an obstetrician and a psychiatrist from the hospital involved, and another psychiatrist.

The legislation also involves an appeals process for a woman when she has been denied an abortion.

If a woman or a doctor is deemed to have performed an illegal abortion, they face a jail term of up to 14 years.

The draft bill also states that terminations can only be carried out in health facilities that provide obstetric and mental health services.

 

Protect

Speaking at Government buildings this morning, Mr Kenny said the measures will protect both expectant mothers and their unborn babies by "clarifying the circumstances" surrounding abortions.

But he emphasised that legislation creates no new rights and that the right to life of the unborn will still be upheld.

"The Protection of Life in Pregnancy Bill will at last bring certainty to pregnant women and legal clarity to medical personnel who work within the system," Mr Kenny said.

"The law on abortion in Ireland is not being changed – our country will continue to be one of the safest places in the world for child birth" he added.

noconnor@herald.ie


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