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Abortion

Government "cannot accept" current version of proposed abortion law

James Reilly says there are difficulties in Clare Daly’s Bill, but affirms the government’s intention to follow the ECHR ruling.

MINISTER FOR HEALTH James Reilly has affirmed that the government will vote against draft legislation permitting abortion in limited circumstances, saying the coalition parties “cannot accept” the legislation as it stands.

Speaking in the Dáil this evening, Reilly accepted that legislating to allow for the outcome of the ‘X Case’ in 1992 was a “long overdue responsibility”, but affirmed that the current government intended to fulfil the need.

“While the Bill as drafted here tonight goes some way to address the A, B and C judgment, the government is clear that in its current form it cannot be accepted because it is lacking in some legal respects,” he said.

Reilly affirmed that the report of the expert group appointed to examine that judgment, handed down by the European Court of Human Rights in 2010, would be used as the basis for the government’s proposed legislation.

“The government is moving to deal with the issue – the expert group is clear on the need to deal with the very complex issues involved.”

“This group will be reporting in the next couple of months and it doesn’t make sense to pre-empt their advice.

Reilly said the government would “take the correct action based on the best advice available to us as a government, to ensure that no woman’s life is ever placed in danger.”

Considerable complexities

The subject of abortion was one on which which most Irish people had an opinion, the minister added, “despite the many considerable complexities involved.”

“We will have time to consider the many technical issues involved, but to put it first in human terms, we need to take necessary action to protect the lives of women.”

Reilly’s comments came after Socialist Party TD Clare Daly, who tabled the Bill, had appealed to the government to support the Bill when a vote was called tomorrow afternoon.

“We know the expert group was delayed in being established, we know they’re not going to issue any findings until July of this year, and in effect with the recess and all of the other schedules, what it would mean is anything they would come forward with… it would be a full year before it would see the light of day,” Daly had said.

Her ULA colleague Joan Collins, said the government did not need to vote against the legislation even though it was still awaiting the finding of the expert group.

“They should not hide behind the minister’s expert group, causing further delays in legislation for vulnerable people.”

In an emotional speech, Mick Wallace commented that the legislation was “20 years too late” and broke down into tears while reading an email from a woman who had previously had an abortion.

“What has this male-dominated parliament done to put an end to the urge of men to control women’s bodies?”, he asked.

Live: Dáil debates bill allowing limited access to abortion

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