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Bid to have rape and incest cases included in bill is defeated

Amendments rejected as TDs call for “very difficult and tragic” cases of rape and incest be catered for.

Joe Higgins, Richard Boyd Barrett, Joan Collins
Joe Higgins, Richard Boyd Barrett, Joan Collins
Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/PA Images, file

FOUR AMENDMENTS WHICH aimed to introduce rape and incest cases into the wording of the abortion bill have been defeated in the Dáil this evening.

Amendments 12, 16, 31 and 84 - tabled by Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins (12, 16, 84); PBPA’s Joan Collins and ULA TD Clare Daly (31) PBPA; TD Richard Boyd Barrett (84) – were debated quickly at the beginning of this evening’s session.

Higgins said that it was “regrettable” that the scope of the bill was “minimised” and would not cater for the “very difficult and tragic circumstances that arise” in cases of rape and incest. Richard Boyd Barrett said that the bill, as it stood without the amendments proposed to widen the scope of the legislation, “won’t achieve its intention of saving the lives of women”.

Collins spoke strongly about the treatment of women – and men – in the eyes of the law, stating:

In many cases judges are offering compensation instead of putting these people (rapists) in jail.

The wider societal context was also referred to by independent TD Finian McGrath who highlighted the frequency of incest cases in Ireland and that we only hear “a sample of what is going on”.

Daly said she felt the bill wasn’t rooted in reality as Ireland essentially tells women they can have a termination because legally she can access information and she has the right to travel – “but you can’t have it at home” was the message, she said.

Six pro-choice TDs issued a surprising statement yesterday evening that they would have to vote against the bill. These included four of those mentioned above – Daly, Collins, Higgins and Boyd Barrett – but independents Mick Wallace and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan said they would also oppose the legislation.

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.

Six pro-choice TDs will vote against the abortion bill>
LIVE: Dáil debates abortion bill before final vote>
Explainer: What exactly are Ireland’s politicians voting on?>

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