Two more Irish politicians have indicated their determination to oppose the abortion legislation of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. There is still only a handful of members of the Irish parliament who have so far come out in opposition to Kenny’s proposed legislation which is being forced through the two houses of the parliament. In what many see as a charade of democracy, where procedures are following the letter but certainly not the spirit of the rules of the political game, the Bill will pass into law in two weeks time unless some miracle change of heart occurs among the two hundred odd members making up the two houses of the parliament. The handful of brave members of the ruling party whose right of conscience is being denied have as much hope at present as the lone protester standing in front of the tanks in Tienanmen Square 24 years ago.
Fine Gael Senator Tom Sheahan and Independent TD Denis Naughten have today added their voices to the opposition to the Government’s proposed legislation and have announced that they will vote against it. Sheahan will do so at the cost of losing his parliamentary party membership, losing the party whip.
Senator Tom Sheahan confirmed that he would vote against the legislation given serious issues he has with it while Deputy Denis Naughten, a member of the Oireachtas Health Committee said that he wouldn’t be voting for the legislation if the provision for abortion on the grounds of suicide remains.
In a statement today Deputy Chairperson of the Pro Life Campaign Cora Sherlock welcomed the decision of Senator Sheahan and Deputy Naughten.
Ms. Sherlock said: “It is heartening that more Oireachtas Members understand what is really contained in this Bill and see how truly unjust it is. For example the Bill permits abortion through the full nine months of pregnancy and it denies the fact that abortion, rather than being a treatment for suicidal ideation, actually exposes women to greater risk of negative mental health consequences.”
She continued: “We applaud those who are willing to stand up against this legislation. They deserve our thanks. It is completely undemocratic that to date there has been no real debate in the Dáil on what the abortion Bill actually contains. If there was I expect that many more TDs and Senators would voice their opposition to it.”
“Our Taoiseach has ignored the right of conscience on this issue. It is a shame that TDs and Senators are being forced to chose between their livelihood and their conscience”, Ms. Sherlock concluded.
Meanwhile a government minister, Lucinda Creighton, has again spoken of her reservations about the Bill. The Irish Times
reported her as saying yesterday, “Under the legislation, there are mechanisms for the mother to vindicate her right to life, which is absolutely correct and appropriate. But there is no mechanism for the unborn child,” Ms Creighton said during a working visit to Paris. “The challenge for the legislature is to balance the constitutional protection for both.”Such a measure would “not necessarily” mean that the attorney general would come into contact with the mother, “but could perhaps review the file”. There were “a variety of legal avenues”, she said. But “there has to be some consideration given to it as we go through the committee stage of the legislation.” Asked whether the draft legislation needed amendments, she replied, “Absolutely.”Ms Creighton said she still had deep reservations about the suicide clause, which would allow a suicidal pregnant woman to seek an abortion. “My views haven’t changed. I think the suicide clause is quite dubious.”“I always felt that our whip system is outmoded and used to excess. I would like to see a different approach. It would be good for our politics if members were able to express different opinions within reason, particularly on issues of conscience . . . People have very, very personal beliefs.”
Fine Gael’s Brian Walsh – one of the government party members who has already entered the field against the legislation – has warned Kenny that up to 10 of his colleagues will do the same.
“We now appear poised to enact legislation based on absurd premise that the suicidality of one human being can be abated by the death of another. This is medico-legal nonsense and a principle that I cannot support,” Mr Walsh said.
Highlighting the undemocratic character of the entire procedure – fearful nof what the outcome might be, Kenny refused to put the issue directly to the people in a referendum – Walsh accused the Government of designing parts of the legislation – particularly the inclusion of a clause to allow a pregnant woman claiming that she is suicidal the right to an abortion – to suit the politician, rather than the mother and the child.