TD calls for 'cooling off period' in abortion bill

The proposal was rejected by the Minister for Health.

(YouTube: SineadOCarrollTJ)

A PROPOSAL FOR a “cooling off period” to be including the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 has been rejected by the Minister for Health.

During this afternoon’s Health Committee hearings, Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin criticised the planned legislation, especially in terms of the controversial inclusion of suicide ideation as a grounds for obtaining a lawful abortion in Ireland.

She said that if the government was “giving any legitimacy or credibility to right to life of unborn being vindicated”, there should be a “cooling off period” of between one week and 10 days from the time a pregnant woman makes the request and the medical assessment is conducted by obstetricians and psychiatrists.

The Mayo deputy believes the amendment to the bill would “allow things to settle”.

“I say that not from my own perspective but medical evidence was given at the health committee hearings that in fact when somebody is in a heightened state of anxiety, distress, suicide ideation, the way to deal with them is to slow things down. You do not make immediate, life-changing decisions in that scenario. It would accord with that evidence and give some credibilty that we are vindicating the life of the unborn,” she added.

In response, Minister James Reilly said: “The reality of what has been suggested is that we have a cooling off period. Whilst that applies in other areas of law and in relation to purchases, this is a life and death situation. This would be highly prescriptive.”

Following a suspension for lunch, he added that lawmakers should not prescribe practices to doctors.

He also clarified that he never said an emergency termination was the “best approach”, adding that the legislation is “very, very clear” that the emergency provisions included do not apply to suicide ideation.

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