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Skirmishes, party punishment follow vote to allow Irish abortion referendum

by | Mar 22, 2018

By Dave Andrusko

While the vote in support of a referendum on the pro-life 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution was overwhelming, there were some interesting signals sent out in the 97 to 27 tally in the Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Irish Parliament).

The referendum on whether to repeal the 8th amendment and allow Parliament to legislate on abortion, will be held in May or June. The 8th amendment (also known as article 40.3.3) recognizes the equal right to life of the mother and her unborn child.

The bill now goes to the upper house (the Seanad).

Minister for Health Simon Harris (who held off expressing his own views for the longest time) said, “I am disappointed that so many people voted to deny people having their say,” according to Sarah Bardon of the Irish Times.

At the same time Carol Nolan, who has said she fears repealing the 8th Amendment will lead to “abortion on demand,” was suspended from her political party (Sinn Féin) for three months for voting against the referendum. Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said of Ms Nolan, “At all stages, the party has acknowledged and respected her views and her right to articulate those views.”

Having said that, McDonald lowered the hammer:

“However, as legislators we have a responsibility to vote as we are mandated by long standing Sinn Féin policy, a policy which we strongly believe is in the best interests of women.”

Members of other parties, such as Fianna Fáil, also voted against the referendum but without penalty. Claire Simpson of the Irish Times wrote

Fianna Fáil members have freedom of conscience on the issue of abortion, meaning each member can vote in accordance with their own view.

Party leader Micheál Martin, however, is supporting repeal and allowing for terminations up to 12 weeks even though the majority of his party does not support this proposition.

The party’s ardfheis [annual conference] voted in favour of Fianna Fáil adopting an anti-abortion position.

Meanwhile there other skirmishes in Wednesday’s vote. Barton wrote

[Prime Minister]Leo Varadkar said the Government will respect the result of the referendum.

He was responding… to recent remarks by Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty, who said the repeal campaigners would not accept a No vote.

Her remarks were raised by Independent TD [member of the lower House of Parliament] Mattie McGrath, who asked whether the Government intended holding another referendum if the May poll was defeated? Speaking to The Irish Times last week, where she was attending St Patrick’s Day events, Ms Doherty said: “The people who have brought us, and who have been very vocal on this issue for a number of years, they are certainly not going to accept a No.”

As NRL News Today has explained on many occasions [here and here], the pro-abortion Irish press and Parliamentary leadership insist replacement legislation would allow abortion on demand but only through the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

In fact, what the Irish government calls an “enabling provision” – that is, that “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies”—is uncharted territory.

Pat Leahy of the Irish Times describes it as allowing abortion for “specific circumstances such as where there is a threat to the mental or physical health of the woman, and in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.”

Essentially a blank check.

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Categories: Ireland