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Pro-life groups: 'Proposals go too far'; Pro-choice: 'Bill doesn't go far enough'

It’s not often that Clare Daly and Youth Defence are in agreement…

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

BOTH PRO-LIFE GROUPS and pro-choice activists have criticised the Government’s draft proposals to legislate for abortion – saying they either go way too far, or not nearly far enough.

Pro-choice TD Clare Daly – who last year forced the first Dáil vote on abortion in a decade – and anti-abortion groups like Youth Defence and the Life Institute have attacked the proposals.

The Life Institute said Fine Gael had ‘caved in’ to Labour on abortion, with spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain saying the absence of any provision on term limits would “horrify the Irish people”.

“We’ve seen the horrors of the Kermit Gosnell case in the US in recent weeks, and just how horrific late term abortions are,” she said.

“Fine Gael made a deal with Labour – ‘Support our austerity measure, and we’ll give you abortion’, but it is Fine Gael who will now become known as the abortion party,” she said.

“Labour represent less than 10% of the people now according to polls, yet they are deciding for the whole country on this issue of life and death.”

Youth Defence said Enda Kenny would be “forever known as the Abortion Taoiseach” while his Fine Gael party would be perceived as being whipped on the issue “by abortion extremists in the Labour Party”.

The group said it was evident that Fine Gael’s legislation opened the door to abortion on demand, and that it would work to educate voters about this.

“The draft heads state that it is not an offence to take action “as a result of which unborn human life is ended”, an important distinction since current medical practice is to act to save the life of the baby where possible, and the death of the child is a side effect of treatment,” said spokeswoman Clare Molloy.

“To end life deliberately is a different matter altogether and makes abortionists out of Irish doctors who are committed to saving lives,” she pointed out.

Three-person panel for suicide still ‘a tribunal’

At the other end of the ideological spectrum, Clare Daly said the Government “haven’t gone far enough at all” in the model chosen for the legislation – and said the panels to adjudicate on potential suicide risks were still a “tribunal”.

“It should have met the wishes of the majority of Irish people that that right [to a live-saving termination] should include where her risk came from suicide,” Daly told the Dáil, suggesting that the legislation would deliberately obstruct those women from a procedure.

What you’ve presented is the absolute minimum: the clear intention is to make it so restrictive that most women who will be affected won’t even bother. Instead, they’ll make the journey to Britain so you can continue to pretend that there’s no Irish abortion.

Daly also questioned the rationale behind ‘ignoring’ the findings of the Expert Group set up to examine the issue, which had “generally considered that two doctors with relevant training and expertise” were sufficient to adjudicate on a suicide risk.

The Action on X campaign said the legislation would deter despairing women, and put their lives at risk – and also criticises the introduction of a 14-year jail term for those who breached the law as a restoration of the “chilling effect” attacked by the European Court of Human Rights.

“The proposal to make a despairing, suicidal woman or girl go through at least three, and possibly six examinations in order to end an unwanted pregnancy shows a callous disregard for women’s lives,” said spokesperson Sinead Kennedy.

“They would be branded as criminals if they obtain abortions in Ireland – yet the government is happy to see it done in Liverpool,” she added.

“The ‘chilling factor’ of criminalisation referred to by the ECHR has been transferred from doctors to women. This hypocrisy must end: abortion must be decriminalised.”

The Bill: What the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 contains

Impact: Taoiseach says new abortion rules just offer clarity and ‘won’t change law’

Fine Gael: ‘No conscientious objection’ for TDs on abortion bill, says Kenny

Explainer: A crash course on how the abortion proposals will become law

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Gavan Reilly

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