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Caroline Simons: 'I think James Reilly is a very foolish man'

The Minister for Health himself has spoken about some of the changes to the abortion legislation, which was published overnight.

Health Minister James Reilly
Health Minister James Reilly
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE PRO LIFE Campaign legal advisor Caroline Simons has criticised the new version of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill and claimed that it will lead to an “appalling scenario” where there will be partial-birth abortions.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Simons was responding to the publication of the legislation by the government overnight and insisted that the evidence that abortion is not a treatment for suicidality had been ignored.

She also criticised the Health Minister James Reilly for having ignored the evidence given by medical professionals to the Oireachtas Health Committee, describing him as a “very foolish man”.

She said there was nothing in the bill which prevents the termination of the life of the unborn and said that the lack of term limits could lead to situations where half of babies born at 25 weeks will not survive and the other will have cerebral palsy:

“There is a possibility where – there are no time limits in this legislation, where the law allows termination of the life of the unborn, where the unborn isn’t born until it’s completely emerged from the body of the woman – that you could be talking about the awful scenario of partial birth abortions, which are so grotesque and which most pro choice and pro life people don’t like,” she said.

Simons criticised a poll in the Irish Times this morning which showed strong support for the proposed legislation, saying she was “tired looking at Irish Times polls”.

“[The] questions pre-suppose, by their wording and formulation, that abortion is a treatment for suicide and once more, with feeling, the Irish Times has done it again,” she said.

She also said that the publication of a HSE report into the death of Savita Halappanavar later today – on the same day as this legislation is published – is “absolutely unconscionable.”

“It is deliberate, it is designed to confuse again,” she said, adding:

“I think the Minister is a very foolish man. He should listen to Sam Coulter-Smith and the other obstetricians who said they are extremely uncomfortable about sucide being included in this and for very very good reason.”

Earlier on the same programme, James Reilly said that the changes to the proposed law give him the power to suspend an institution from carrying out abortions if there are “worrying trends or irregular activity” pending an inquiry by the health watchdog, HIQA.

He also said that the area of conscientious objection will only apply to individuals as a hospital or institution was not able to object to carrying out an abortion if it is funded by the taxpayer.

“We could not have a situation where a service being funded by the taxpayer could deprive a citizen of their rights,” he said.

Read: Abortion bill ‘ties the hands of many families’ as poll shows strong support

Read These are the main changes to the abortion legislation

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Hugh O'Connell

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