TDS WILL HAVE their chance to vote on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 for the first time this evening.
The ballot will be held in the Dáil chamber after 5.05pm but many deputies have already indicated how they will vote today and in the coming weeks. As the debate kicked off yesterday, 94 politicians had speaking time to address the floor.
Fine Gael has prepared itself for losing at least four TDs but that number could rise to nine or 10 before the Bill is passed into law.
The most high-profile dissenter was Junior Minister Lucinda Creighton who, while extremely critical of the proposed legislation, reserved her position. Speaking in the Dáil, she outlined her concerns with the Bill but failed to indicate which way she will vote.
There were also negative sentiments from John Paul Phelan, James Bannon, John O’Mahony and Michelle Mulherin. If they vote against the proposals, they will lose the party whip (meaning expulsion from Fine Gael).
The Taoiseach Enda Kenny, waving a copy of Ireland’s constitution, defended the legislation in the Dáil yesterday. He described the bill as “not radical”, adding that it will “not create new rights”.
“It will not lead to the introduction of abortion on demand in Ireland but it will clarify the very rare circumstances in which doctors can intervene if there is a real risk of a woman losing her life during her pregnancy.”
He also said that deputies could not pick and choose aspects of the bill they liked or disliked.
Fianna Fáil has allowed its members a free vote on the issue, calling it a matter of conscience, and so far nine TDs have signalled their opposition. Another member, Robert Troy, indicated that he was unhappy with the bill.
Those definitely voting against the Bill include:
Fine Gael: Brian Walsh, Peter Mathews, Billy Timmins, Terence Flanagan
Sinn Féin: Peadar Tóibín
Fianna Fáil: Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Seamus Kirk, Dara Calleary, John Browne, Éamon Ó Cuiv, Charlie McConalogue, Brendan Smith, Sean O Fearghail
Independents: Colm Keaveney, Michael Healy-Rae, Noel Grealish, Mattie McGrath