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TD calls for 'cooling-off period' in Abortion Bill


Michelle Mulherin. Photo: Tom Burke

Michelle Mulherin. Photo: Tom Burke

Michelle Mulherin. Photo: Tom Burke

CALLS are being made for a ten-day "cooling-off period" where a suicidal woman seeks an abortion.

As the abortion legislation debate continued, other politicians want a referendum to be held by October.

Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin is seeking a "cooling-off period of a week to 10 days" from the time a woman said she was suicidal and made a request to have a termination.

She was speaking during the committee stage of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, but Health Minister Dr James Reilly said he could not have this on his conscience.


"This is a life-and-death situation. This would be highly prescriptive and this Oireachtas could be responsible for the death of a woman where the two psychiatrists have certified that the risk is real, substantial and while we are having our cooling-off period, this lady takes her life," he said.

"That's not something I am prepared to have on my conscience, that's not something we can prescribe for in law."

Roisin Shortall called for a referendum to be held in October. "I think the very minimum is there be a clear commitment to arrange a constitutional referendum on this specific issue and that that would be held in October prior to the commencement of this legislation."

Only the Health Minister and nine members of the Dail sub-committee on health can vote or propose amendments in the committee stage.


Meanwhile, the four Fine Gael TDs, including Terence Flanagan, who were automatically expelled from the parliamentary party for voting against the Bill, have spoken publicly.

Billy Timmins said Fine Gael was trying to put "frighteners" on others by taking sanctions against those who voted against the Bill. Peter Mathews and Brian Walsh said the party had strayed from their position on abortion, not them.

Mr Mathews said he had not voted against the Government, but the Bill, which he described as fundamentally unsound as a result of Section 9, which deals with the threat of suicide.