- Minister of State for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter. Original source here. 

"There has in the last six weeks been a considered and detailed debate and discussion relating to Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court judgement in the X case, the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the A,B,C case and the report of the Expert Group appointed to make recommendations concerning the State’s compliance with the judgement of the European Court. The tragic death of Savita Halappanavar and the terrible and understandable distress of her husband and extended family also came to public notice and there is presently awaited the report of the independent review of the circumstances surrounding her death and the
outcome of the investigation to be conducted by HIQA as well as the anticipated inquest to be conducted in the Coroners Court in the new year.

It is clearly the view of the majority of people in this State that the Government should take the action necessary following on from the report of the Expert Group so as to ensure that where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother a pregnancy can be terminated in this State and that rules and procedures are in place that are clear to both medical
personnel and to pregnant women and their families. It is regrettable that a minority of individuals are now reverting to the insensitive and disgraceful tactics deployed by the fundamentalist bullyboys who targeted both me and others in the early 1980s when, in advance of the 1983 referendum, I predicted many of the difficulties that have arisen as a
result of the incorporation of Article 40.3.3 into our Constitution.

As someone who has campaigned for many years for greater protection for children, for reform of our child protection services, for a senior Minister for Children in Government and for a Childrens Rights Amendment in our Constitution I was appalled this morning to discover that, overnight, posters have appeared in my constituency of Dublin South containing the slogan

accompanied by an entirely outrageous and entirely inappropriate bloodied photograph and with the additional slogan at the bottom “STOP ABORTION”

The lack of humanity, insight and compassion of those responsible for these posters is starkly illustrated by their positioning adjacent to Wesley College school, close to where I live and their reported positioning outside at least one creche in my constituency. The persons or organisation responsible for these untruthful and illegal posters are apparently too cowardly to include their identity on the posters. They also have no concern for pregnant women who have tragically miscarried, experienced still births or a pregnancy with a child suffering a fatal foetal abnormality nor have they any concern for any mother whose pregnancy had to be terminated where its continuation posed a real and substantial threat to her life.

I appreciate that this is an emotional issue in respect of which people have genuinely different views and many valid concerns. However, obscene and targeted postering of this nature contributes nothing of value to considered public discussion and debate on an issue that for too long previous Governments have failed to comprehensively address."

THE expert group has confirmed the obvious. Legislation with regulations represents the best way to implement the European Court of Human Rights ABC judgment. It is "constitutionally, legally and procedurally sound". Primary legislation would provide for the drafting of regulations to deal with detailed matters such as changing medical practices. The legislation would also repeal or amend the 1861 Act which criminalises abortion in this country.

The report helpfully sets out a blueprint for Government as to the content of legislation to clarify the X case test. It addresses key issues, including the specific risk of suicide, by saying a psychiatrist could be required to assess this. As Minister for Justice Alan Shatter confirmed yesterday, it would be legally impossible to legislate without including suicide risk. The X case test was confirmed by the people in two referendums in 1992 and 2002. You can't legislate for a bit of that test – it would be like being 'a bit' pregnant.

Read full article by Ivana Bacik here
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has moved to defuse public controversy and tensions between the Coalition parties over abortion by promising swift action and calling for a “calm, rational and sensitive discussion”.

However, there was adverse reaction within his own party, with a number of Fine Gael backbenchers complaining that they were being “press-ganged” into moving too rapidly to deal with the matter.

Speaking this morning, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said leaving suicide out the discussion surrounding abortion was not an option.  “The Supreme Court is absolutely clear upon this issue and the people have been absolutely clear. There were attempts made by previous Governments in 1992 and 2002 to remove suicide as an issue. The people on both occasions turned that down.”

During a private members’ time in the Dáil last night, Mr Shatter said that some citizens were more equal than others.

He moved to clarify his comments today. “When men in this country require medical treatment there are no barriers to their obtaining it," he said. "In these particular areas, for example, there are barrier to women obtaining treatment and in that sense they are less equal as citizens in one particular area of our life.”

Full article here

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter says it is "not an option" to leave out the threat of suicide as a grounds for abortion.

Fine Gael backbenchers are concerned about the inclusion of suicide in the forthcoming expected legislation on abortion in limited circumstances.

Mr Shatter says decision in the Supreme Court in the X case and subsequent court cases are clear on the question on suicide.

"It is not an option to leave it out," he said on RTE's Morning Ireland.

The minister said "the people have been absolutely clear" too in referenda in 1992 and 2002 on this question.

“The Supreme Court is absolutely clear about this issue and the people have been absolutely clear," he said.

Full article by Fionnan Sheahan here

"Whatever action Government takes we will still have in this country one of the most restrictive laws in Europe with regard to the termination of pregnancies. Both women and medical practitioners are entitled to know where they stand and what procedures are available to address the circumstances in which a pregnancy is terminable under our constitutional code. In debating this issue I believe it is of crucial importance that Members of this House do not resort to extreme language. We should be conscious of the impact of what we say both in this House and outside it on women who have miscarried or who have had pregnancies terminated where their lives have been at risk.

We should also be clear on what we are not doing. We are not considering, in any shape or form, abortion on demand as is alleged by some. We are not even addressing nor can we under the current constitutional provision, issues that many outside this House believe should be addressed. For example, whatever decision is taken by Government we cannot provide, in this State, for the termination of a pregnancy resulting from rape in the absence of the victim being suicidal. We cannot provide for the termination of a pregnancy where there is a foetal abnormality which will, as a certainty, result in the birth of a baby unable to survive. The Expert Group Report documents cases of rape victims going to Britain to effect terminations and of mothers with babies who suffered foetal abnormalities such as anencephaly or Edwards syndrome. In the absence of constitutional change there will continue to be a British solution to this Irish problem.

It is also of course the position that a pregnancy that poses a serious risk to the health as opposed to the life of a woman, even where such health risk could result in permanent incapacity, does not provide a basis for effecting a termination in this State. The reality of course is that there is no impediment to men seeking and obtaining any required medical intervention to protect not only their life but also their health and quality of life. I am, of course, not only Minister for Justice and Defence but also Minister for Equality and it can truly be said that the right of pregnant women to have their health protected is, under our constitutional framework, a qualified right as is their right to bodily integrity. This will remain the position. This is a republic in we proclaim the equality of all citizens but it is a reality that some citizens are more equal than others.

We should not pretend that the limited measures that must now be put in place to satisfy the judgement of the European Court ensure true equality for all citizens of this republic, both men and women. They are however essential to ensuring that pregnant women whose lives are at risk have available to them the medical treatment they require."