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‘We have an issue with suicidal risk in abortion legislation’ – Micheál Martin

The Fianna Fáil leader told TheJournal.ie he doesn’t know how many doctors should assess suicidal risk and said he is not currently in favour of widening abortion legislation to include pregnancies as a result of rape.

Micheál Martin speaking to TheJournal.ie today
Micheál Martin speaking to TheJournal.ie today
Image: Screengrab via TheJournal.ie

MICHEÁL MARTIN HAS said Fianna Fáil has an issue with including the risk of suicide in any legislation for the X Case on abortion saying he and the party will wait to see legislation before deciding whether or not to vote for it.

Martin would not be drawn on the specifics of the forthcoming legislation and how many doctors should be required to sign-off on a termination on the grounds of suicidal risk in an interview with TheJournal.ie today.

He also said that he would not favour widening legislation or changing the Constitution to include cases where a woman has become pregnant as a result of rape.

“Rape is a particularly difficult one. We do have options today that we didn’t have before in terms of the morning after pill and so forth,” he said.

Martin said he didn’t know if recent speculation that the legislation would involve up to five doctors being required to assess suicidal risk was necessary and would not be drawn on how many doctors he thought would be necessary to carry out an assessment.

“I’m not getting into specifics right now. I think we’ll await the legislation,” he said, adding:

“I mean the figure of five has been thrown out there. I don’t know, I don’t have any opinion on five at this particular point in time, I’m not sure whether it’s a true figure.”

Martin said only that a “combination of obstetricians and psychiatrists” would “obviously” be required and said there needed to be a “reasonable number” of doctors “that can make decisions”. He also said that Ireland needed more perinatal psychiatrists.

Watch more from Micheál Martin on the abortion issue:



He acknowledged that the party has an issue with suicidal risk and its potential to “open the door” to abortion on demand in Ireland if included in the forthcoming legislation on the X Case.

The Supreme Court verdict over 20 years ago said that a woman is entitled to an abortion in circumstances where her life is at risk, including from the risk of suicide.

“That [suicidal risk] is the key issue for us and government has said, the Taoiseach has said in particular that he is not in favour of abortion on demand. He believes he can construct legislation to prevent such a scenario from unfolding,” he said.

“We will look at that legislation and examine it in terms of whether it facilitates abortion on demand or it doesn’t,” he added.

Martin described the suicidal risk as a “genuine issue” that he and many deputies within the party have, adding: “On the other hand we have to be very sensitive to the situation in terms of any potential risk to the life of the mother.”

The Cork South-Central TD said that he would have difficulties with providing for abortion beyond the terms of X

He said that legislating for abortions in circumstances where a foetus has no compatibility with life outside the womb would raise questions about “where you draw the line”.

“I met with mothers in that situation and have also met with mothers in other situations where they are anxious to bring the baby to full term,” he said.

Martin said that in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and rape he was not presently in favour of “broadening the base upon which termination can occur” pointing out that it would require changing the Constitution.

TheJournal.ie will have more from a wide-ranging interview with Micheál Martin tomorrow and throughout the rest of the week.

Read: Poll finds 85 per cent support abortion ‘in certain circumstances’

Read: Creighton has ‘grave reservations’ about suicide risk in any X Case law

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