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Six pro-choice TDs will vote against the abortion bill tonight

The six TDs are seeking a referendum to repeal an article in the Constitution that places the life of the unborn and the life of the mother on equal footing.

Joe Higgins, Richard Boyd Barrett, Joan Collins and Clare Daly all plan to vote against the bill.
Joe Higgins, Richard Boyd Barrett, Joan Collins and Clare Daly all plan to vote against the bill.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/PA

SIX PRO-CHOICE TDS have delcared that they intend to vote against the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Bill 2013.

This evenining Clare Daly, Joan Collins, Richard Boyd Barrett, Mick Wallace, Joe Higgins and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan said they would all oppose the bill despite their pro-choice views.

They said that in the absence of a referendum to repeal Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, which places the life of the mother and the unborn on an equal footing, they could not support it.

Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan said this article is “unnecessarily retained” in the bill and that it is “perverse” that a doctor must allow a medical condition that is not in itself life-threatening – such as inevitable miscarriage – become potentially lethal before they can perform a termination.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie he said that his main concerns are that the bill does not provide adequate protection for women who are raped or include fatal foetal abnormality.

“I have sisters, I had a mother, I have aunts and I  have daughters,” he said. “My priority is their health and if one of my female relative was raped and they felt they needed to purge their body of it, that should be their choice.”

In a statement earlier today, Joe Higgins said he could not support the bill as it “represents a betrayal of women and the memory of Savita Halappanavar whose life would not have been saved with this legislation”.

He said that the bill, as it stands, is more restrictive than the Supreme Court Ruling in 1992.

Regardless of the significance being attached to this legislation by both the government and by the most virulent anti-abortion elements and the Catholic Church the plain reality is that this is not a significant step forward for women.

The Socialist Party TD said the definition of unborn life in the Bill creates the possibility of fresh lines of attack from reactionaries on to right to IVF treatment as well as impeding stem cell research.

He added that the offences section is “barbaric” as a woman who becomes pregnant following a rape and procures an abortion stands to face a sentence of more than twice that for a convicted rapist.

Joan Collins also announced her decision earlier on Twitter:

This evening Richard Boyd Barrett criticised the exclusion of fatal foetal abnormality in the bill, which he said “will force women whose pregnancies will inevitably end in tragedy to go full term or travel overseas for terminations”.

Clare Daly said the bill will make terminations illegal during an inevitable miscarriage while there is still a foetal heartbeat. “If a woman gets an infection in such circumstances, doctors will have to delay a termination until her life is at risk,” she said.

Referring to the suidical ideation clause, Mick Wallace said that the government are putting obstacles in the way of “despairing women”, forcing overseas those who are able to travel, in order to placate the anti-abortionists in their midst and the anti-abortion minority in Irish society.”

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