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Senators vote against fatal foetal abnormalities amendment

The amendment was defeated by 42 votes to 10. Here’s how the senators voted.

SENATORS HAVE VOTED against an amendment to the ‘abortion bill’ that would have allowed for termination in the case of fatal foetal abnormality.

The amendment to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 was tabled by Senators Fiach Mac Conghail and Mary Louise O’Donnell.

The amendment was defeated by 42 votes to 10.

It would have inserted a section making it lawful to carry out a medical procedure in respect of a pregnant woman:

in accordance with this section in the course of which, or as a result of which, a pregnancy is ended, where— (a) the medical procedure is carried out by an obstetrician at an appropriate institution, and (b) subject to section 19, two medical practitioners, having examined the pregnant woman, have jointly certified that the foetus in question has a fatal foetal abnormality.

The amendment would have also allowed for termination of pregnancy in cases of rape, incest, and inevitable miscarriage.

The discussion on this amendment lasted for around three hours, and saw heated debate and numerous points of orders being brought up by senators.


Fianna Fáil’s Averill Power and Mary White were the only members of their party to vote in favour of the amendment. Fianna Fáil members have a free vote on the issue.

No Fine Gael members voted in favour of it.

Those who did vote in favour were:

  • Senator Mac Conghail (Independent)
  • Senator Mary Ann O’Brien (Independent)
  • Senator Jillian Van Turnhout (Independent
  • Senator Katherine Zappone (Independent)
  • Senator Mary Louise O’Donnell (Independent)
  • Senator Seán Barrett (Independent)
  • Senator David Norris (Independent)
  • Senator James Heffernan (Labour)
  • Senator Mary White (Fianna Fáil)
  • Senator Averill Power (Fianna Fáil)

The discussion covered the issues of what constituted fatal foetal abnormalities – with some senators objecting to the discussion by others of Down Syndrome and disabilities, pointing out they were not fatal foetal abnormalities.

Senators Ronán Mullen and Jim Walsh said they had spoken to people who were conceived as a result of rape, and this had contributed to their rejection of the amendment.

Senator Ivana Bacik spoke of why the amendments were constitutionally outside the remits of the bill itself.

Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames rejected assertions that she made “a value judgement” on two sets of women who had decided on different approaches to their diagnoses of fatal foetal abnormality.

Senator David Norris spoke about the length of the discussion on the amendment, alleging it was “a political sleight of hand” to try and “force a guillotine through”.

Watch: Norris says he’s happy to withdraw words that caused offence>

Read: Here’s how the Seanad voted on the abortion legislation>

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