| 6.5°C Dublin

Abortion laws 'are not serving women well', says Burton


Tanaiste Joan Burton

Tanaiste Joan Burton

Tanaiste Joan Burton

Tanaiste Joan Burton has said she is still opposed to the 1983 eighth amendment, saying it does not "serve women well".

Ms Burton echoed controversial comments made by Health Minister Leo Varadkar earlier this week, that the amendment which gives the same status to the right of the foetus as to the mother is "too restrictive".


The Labour leader said she had opposed the amendment and is still opposed to it.

"In my view, the eighth amendment does not actually serve women well when issues of their life, their safety and their health are in question," she said.

In the context of the case of a brain-dead pregnant woman, she did not wish to comment on the case.

"I know court proceedings are under way so I don't want to comment on that other than to say it is Christmas time. It is very hard for that particular family," she said.

Describing it is a "very difficult debate", Ms Burton said she did not think it was appropriate that people now need to go through their lawyer to get to their doctor.

"What I want to see around the bed are the doctors, not the lawyers. The notion that to get appropriate medical treatment you basically have to go to a lawyer to get to your doctor, I think as a society we have to ask ourselves a fundamental question: is this right?" she said.

She referred to the Government's tackling of the X-Case and ABC Case rulings, notwithstanding the "personal difficulties" for Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fine Gael.

"The Government promised, and I know this was a difficult issue for Fine Gael and for the Taoiseach personally to address, to address the issues arising from the X-Case and the ABC cases," she said.


"But what is obvious is that, with developments in medicine, cases are going to arise from time to time that no constitution actually can set down a definitive answer."

Ms Burton was speaking after Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he believes Ireland's abortion laws are "too restrictive".

He was responding to a motion by Independent TD Clare Daly seeking to remove the clause in the Constitution equating the lives of a mother and her unborn child.