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I'm pro-choice says Quinn but Gilmore silent

EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn has admitted he is pro-choice on abortion.

While his party leader Eamon Gilmore is dodging questions on the issue, Mr Quinn has thrown the debate wide open.

His open stance on abortion is poised to rock the Coalition, which is trying to keep a lid on simmering differences between Fine Gael and Labour TDs.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore was asked yesterday if he agreed with Senator Ivana Bacik that the party's official position on abortion was pro-choice, but he declined to outline his position.

However, Mr Quinn said he respects all voices in the debate but confirmed to the Herald that he is pro-choice.

"The Catholic Church has been consistent in their opposition to abortion because they hold the view that, and they are not alone in this, human life commences with conception," he told the Herald.

"There are many people who are no Catholic who believe this. It is not one with which I agree."

A significant number of Fine Gael TDs have already threatened a mutiny against Health Minister James Reilly if the issue is pushed too far.

Last month, 15 TDs said they would oppose legislation that paved the way for abortion. An expert group on abortion is to report to the Cabinet after the summer recess.

Earlier this week, Mr Quinn's colleague, Pat Rabbitte, said that Labour's position on the issue was clear.

"There's no secret about the position that where the life of the mother is deemed at risk, our position is clear," he said.

And last weekend he said it would be a retrograde step if the Church went back to dictating to elected representatives how to address the issue."

Mr Quinn said all parties would be welcome to the table.

"I think the Catholic Church and any other church is entitled to lobby in the debate like anybody else," he told the Herald.