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Rabbitte: Labour ministers “haven’t seen” draft abortion bill

Labour Minister Pat Rabbitte said today he had not seen the heads of bill, amid reports that Labour and Fine Gael are clashing over the plan.

Tanaiste and Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore and Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Tanaiste and Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore and Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

QUESTIONS SURROUND WHETHER the heads of a bill set to legislate for the X Case in Ireland will go before cabinet as planned this Tuesday.

According to a report in the Sunday Times today, Labour ministers have “rejected” the bill, calling it “unworkable”. It says the plan would mean suicidal women would have to be assessed by a panel of six doctors before they could be given a termination.

It also says that this could mean that the heads of the Protection of Maternal Life bill won’t go before cabinet this coming Tuesday as the draft proposals put forward by Fine Gael have not been accepted by Labour.

But Labour Minister Pat Rabbitte told Marian Finucane on RTÉ radio that while he did not want to disparage the article, it isn’t true that Labour Ministers have “rejected” the bill “as we haven’t seen it yet”. He said he had not seen the heads of bill, and “normally we would get the papers before the weekend to go through them”.

He said that there would be “discussions going on behind the scenes” but he has not been involved personally.

Rabbitte said that having followed the Galway case regarding the late Savita Halappanavar, he believed: “I don’t think we can turn it into a medical negligence case”.

He said there was “clearly an issue of lack of clarity in the law and certainty for doctors to be free to do what they feel they must do”.

Response

Choice Ireland spokesperson Sinead Ahern told TheJournal.ie:

We are really hoping that cabinet can agree on something on Tuesday. We were promised the heads of bill by Easter and haven’t seen that. We hope it doesn’t get caught up in further in political delay and posturing. We need to be very mindful of the fact that Dr Peter Boylan has already suggested if we had clarity in the law that Savita Halappanavar might be alive today.

Ahern added that “we need to be very mindful of the fact that women need to feel safe” and women “need to know they will get any medical care they need”.

The Pro Life campaign was contacted by TheJournal.ie for its opinion but at the time of posting had not replied.

Read: The Savita Halappanavar inquest verdict will influence Ireland>

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