LUCINDA Creighton has threatened to quit her ministerial position if the upcoming abortion legislation goes "too far".
The European Affairs Minister has vowed not to support measures which result in Ireland ending up with a "liberalised abortion system".
The Dublin TD was responding to the Cabinet's decision to opt for a package of legislation and regulation that will allow for terminations when the mother's life is under threat from suicide.
Ms Creighton told the Herald that having "thought about it very, very deeply" her "hardened" view is influenced by her dealings with couples who have experienced IVF and adoptions.
She said that devising legislation to satisfy every Fine Gael TD will be a "big big challenge" but she hopes to avoid a situation where she would forfeit the party whip.
"I will be, along with many other colleagues I'm sure, setting out my concerns about the potential of future legislation going too far in terms of making abortion freely available," she told the Herald.
"I've made it very clear that I would not support any regime that would introduce liberalised abortion or abortion on demand," she added.
Ms Creighton said that "there is an equal right between a mother and an unborn child and that is the dilemma we find ourselves in -- we want to protect both".
She added: "I think that is going to be the big, big challenge for the Minister for Health in introducing this legislation and I hope he gets it right."
Health Minister James Reilly explained yesterday he plans new laws that will cover the issue of suicide, in order to bring in compliance with the 1992 X Case decision.
However, Government figures are ruling out the possibility of allowing abortions in the case of sexual assault or rape.
Asked to define measures that would be seen as "too far" Ms Creighton said it was too early to say.
"I think we need to wait and see what's proposed by the Minister for Health in conjunction with the Attorney General.
"And see what sort of safeguards can be and will be put in place to ensure that we don't end up with a liberalised abortion system."
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is braced for a bitter internal battle with a cohort of Fine Gael TDs who have grave concerns about the legislative route.
Deputies have been warned that they will not be allowed a free vote on the matter and face exile from Fine Gael if they refuse to support the measures.
The Cabinet decision has been widely welcomed by a number of Labour TDs, some of whom describe it as a "victory" for the party.
Asked whether abortion represented a "red line issue", Ms Creighton said: "I never like to use that term because I think it creates the impression of complete inflexibility. I try to be very pragmatic.
"I try to work towards compromise with my colleagues but it's a very, very important issue for me as it is for many others."
She admitted that her views on abortion have "hardened as I grew older", adding that her current stance has been influenced by her dealings with couples who have experienced IVF and adoptions.
"I've dealt with an awful lot of couples, and individuals, who have gone through that process and I think it's heartbreaking and heart wrenching and that has had an impact on my thinking on this issue over the last number of year
"But I've actually thought about it very, very deeply. And it's just a question of ensuring that we put protections in place for everybody, for mothers and for babies and that's the balance we have to strike."