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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 22 October, 2014

X Case Dáil debate told: ‘Protecting lives of pregnant women the only civilised choice’

The Dáil debated a motion from calling on the government to legislate for the X Case. Deputy McDonald said it “is a very reasonable ask of a political system that has fudged, prevaricated and failed to act in 20 years”.

 Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

MEMBERS OF THE DÁIL gave their opinions on whether the government should legislate for the Supreme Court ruling on the X Case this evening.

Sinn Féin put a motion forward in Private Members’ Business calling on the government to legislate for the X Case. Speaking to the Dáil this evening, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald said it is crucial that the full facts are established around Savita Halappanavar’s death and the inquiry must have the full confidence and consent of her husband and family.

Of the motion, she said:

Sinn Féin’s is a straight forward call for legislation to protect pregnant women where their lives are in danger; it is a call for legislation that gives certainty and protection to the doctors who care for them; it is a call on government to publish the long awaited report of the expert group to facilitate debate and the speedy passage of this legislation.
Our motion is a very reasonable ask of a political system that has fudged, prevaricated and failed to act in twenty years.

“Protecting the lives of pregnant women is not a difficult choice. It is the only civilised choice,” she added

Response

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams backed up his party colleague’s thoughts. He was followed by Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis, who spoke about his support for the motion and his own past in taking part in pro-choice events.

He said the country has had “people who claim to be leaders buckling in cowardice” over the issue in times past, and that women like Savita are “a human being and not an incubator “.

Deputy Ellis said that the “extreme reactions of groups like Youth Defence” were off-putting and “very many good people remained silent”. He called on the Government not to “cop out”.

Sinn Féin Deputy Martin Ferris said he is totally opposed to abortion on demand, and that abortion would have to clearly be restricted to circumstances where a pregnant woman’s life is in danger of being lost. He said that it could be argued that under the current situation, there is scope for a much more liberal allowing for abortion.

Health Minister

Health Minister James Reilly said that women in Ireland are entitled to have legal clarity around abortion where a woman’s life is at risk. He said he received the report of the Expert Group on the A, B and C case on 13 November and intends to recommend its publication on Tuesday 27 November.

He added: “I’m sure all of you share my view that it is incumbent on us as representatives… to take action to deal with the long overdue responsibility to protect lives of women”.

Labour Minister of State for Disability, Equality and Mental Health Kathleen Lynch appealed to the movers of the motion “that calmer heads will now prevail” and said that though anger is understandable, something concrete is now being done about the situation. “I would appeal to you to let wiser heads prevail,” she said. “Let’s be calm about this now. Let’s do it properly.”

Labour Deputy Ciara Conway supported the motion, but pointed out that in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin “has resisted any attempt to bring in any part of UK abortion law”. She said the Labour Party “had been the sole party and the only one that asked for legislation to end this inequality”.

Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell said of the claims of the Life Institute that abortion is never required to save the life of the mother, “we now know that is wrong, wrong, wrong”. She said the government cannot leave doctors in a position where they have no option but to treat human beings in a way a vet wouldn’t treat a dog.

Deputy Billy Kelleher questioned the timing of the motion, before the expert report had been released, and said he was very concerned that the investigation into Savita Halappanavar’s death was not fully independent.

He added that he had spoke to staff at Galway hospital who were very distraught and that some feel scapegoated.

Read: McDonald on X Case motion: “The time for playing cat and mouse is over”>

Read: TDs won’t get to vote on Sinn Féin’s abortion motion. Here’s why>

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