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Vote on bill to allow abortion for babies with life-limiting conditions scheduled for next Tuesday in Republic of Ireland

by | Feb 6, 2015


By Dave Andrusko

Independent TD Clare Daly

Independent TD Clare Daly

Debate was, as expected, furious today in the Dáil, the lower house of the Parliament of the Republic of Ireland, over a bill providing for abortion ostensibly in cases of fatal fetal anomalies.

The Abortion Act of England and Wales does not apply in Northern Ireland. Currently, abortion is only legal if a woman’s life is at risk, or if there is a risk of permanent and serious damage to her mental or physical health.

Just how disingenuous the bill is can be seen in its title: “Protection of Life in Pregnancy Amendment (Fatal Foetal Abnormalities) Bill.” Somehow aborting babies said to have fatal anomalies is “protection of life in pregnancy.”

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that the bill is not only flawed but unconstitutional, according to the pro-abortion Irish Times.

The Times’ Marie O’Halloran reported that Varadkar said opposition TDs [members of the Dáil] were “clearly confused and clearly making different arguments and believe different things can arise from this Bill. This is a flawed piece of legislation.”

According to O’Halloran, Varadkar said proponents

could not say with certainty “what does incompatible with life actually mean”. Did it mean “life for a few hours, life for a few minutes, life for a few days, life for a few months. That’s not a Jesuitical issue, that’s something you have to define in legislation.”

He also said “the Government had no mandate to hold a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment.”

Voted on in 1983, the amendment says:

“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

O’Halloran reported that Varadkar

believed a Constitutional convention on the issue would be a good way to consider the issue. He said it should be dealt with by the next Dáil, the 32nd Dáil and he would advocate this to his party.

Independent TD Clare Daly, whose bill this is, said the bill is “incredibly limited” in scope. With respect to its constitutionality, Daly shot back

what you’re actually saying is the present Attorney General [Máire Whelan] believes it to be unconstitutional. Now many other people believe that she is wrong, including the previous Attorney General.

Other supporters of the bill suggested the Government did have a mandate to amend the law.

As noted yesterday, Daly has a long history of abortion advocacy, including support for “abortion on demand up to birth,” according to Cora Sherlock, Deputy Chairperson of the Pro Life Campaign.” As the Pro Life Campaign said in a story posted on its website

“The fact that she keeps introducing bills in the Oireachtas [the Parliament] to allow for abortion where unborn babies have life-limiting conditions is just part of her campaign for wider abortion. But it is deeply hurtful to families who opted against abortion in these situations to hear Deputy Daly and her colleagues describe their babies as ‘non-viable’ and ‘incompatible with life’.

“It is absolutely reprehensible that some members of the Oireachtas have described the utterly defenceless babies in these situations as ‘simply a piece of flesh with no sensation, capacity for sensation or any form of feeling.’ What a grossly ignorant and insensitive way for a member of the Oireachtas to describe the precious life of a child.”

In a prior story published in the Times, Joan Burton, a Labour member of the Dáil, confirmed that the Labour Party would be voting against Daly’s bill.

Burton told the Times, “The legal advice to the Government from the Attorney General is that the Bill is not constitutional because there are issues with the formula that is used in the Bill which means that it comes within the ambit of the eighth amendment to the Constitution.”

The Attorney General’s legal advice to the Government was that bill “could only become law if was supported by the people in a referendum,” Burton told the Times.

However still another story (again from the pro-abortion Irish Times) says some members of the Labour Party want a “free vote” (rather than following the party’s position), fearing a vote against the Daly bill would hurt them.

The Irish Times reports that there will be a vote next Tuesday on the bill.

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Categories: Abortion