The Cabinet will announce today that a combination of legislation and regulations will be required to comply with the Supreme Court decision on abortion in the X case.

The decision to follow this route – the fourth option from the expert group on abortion – will result in a legislative framework that will adhere to the key 1992 ruling, a senior source confirmed yesterday.

This is expected to allow the fear of suicide as a ground for abortion but may not provide for rape or sexual abuse, neither of which formed part of the X-case ruling. On foot of the decision, the Government is also expected to repeal provisions in the Offences against the State Act 1861, which criminalises abortion.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and a Minister of State yesterday all but confirmed the Government would follow the legislative route, rather than proposing guidelines, an option favoured by anti-abortion campaign groups. Minister for Health James Reilly will present a memorandum to this morning’s Cabinet meeting, with a decision expected in the afternoon.

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TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar says he still has concerns about suicide being included as grounds for abortion and there will need to be a "wall of safeguards".

His comments come in the wake of a poll showing eight out of 10 people support legislation for the X-Case ruling on abortion.

Fine Gael has also suffered a dramatic dive in support on the back of the botched handling of the Savita Halappanavar tragedy.

Mr Varadkar also lashed out at pro-choice "extremists" as he said the majority of people do not want abortion on demand.

The minister repeated his call for the Government to consider holding a referendum on abortion, despite Taoiseach Enda Kenny ruling it out.

Full article by Fionnan Sheahan here

 
 
Putting herself on a likely collision course with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Ms Creighton said she was not convinced legislation was necessary. 

The outspoken junior minister also warned that any proposed law change would need to be narrower in scope than the 20-year-old X case ruling, as issues such as time limits for terminations were not covered by it. 

"We have to be clear that, in fact, the Supreme Court decision at the moment is extremely open and extremely vague. It doesn’t provide any guidance on those issues. What the Oireachtas would have to introduce is something much, much narrower, and that would at some point be tested in the Supreme Court and that is inevitable," Ms Creighton told RTÉ. 

Full article by Shaun Connolly 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

 
 
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.

The report of the expert group set up after the 2010 European Court of Human Rights judgment against Ireland on abortion was discussed at Cabinet yesterday morning and subsequently published online.

The report contained four options for the Government, but leaned heavily in favour of a flexible combination of legislation and regulations.

A Dáil debate on the report starts on Tuesday, and Mr Kenny said he would “provide as much time as people desire”.

The Taoiseach said that prior to the Dáil going into recess for Christmas “the Government will make its view known, arising from those discussions and our own views, regarding which option it decides to pursue”.

From January 8th-10th and before the Dáil resumes the Joint Committee on Health and Children will hold public hearings on whatever option is chosen.

Full article by Deaglán de Bréadún and Mary Minihan here

 
 
The commitment by Taoiseach Enda Kenny that Fine Gael will impose the whip to ensure the passage of legislation covering abortion in limited circumstances is a clear signal that there will not be any serious conflict between the Coalition parties on the issue.

Kenny’s comments yesterday reflect the broad consensus in both Government parties about the need to deal clearly and decisively with the abortion issue in the light of the European Court of Human Rights judgment and the death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway University Hospital.

The vast majority of TDs from both parties have been guarded in their comments since the Savita case. They were determined not to say anything to inflame the situation as they feared being dragged back into the kind of bitterness that characterised debate on the abortion issue in previous decades.

Full article by Stephen Collins here

 
 
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny says he wants to get "maximum consensus" to settle the divisive issue of abortion.

Me Kenny was speaking on the way into this morning’s Cabinet meeting, which is discussing the expert group report on abortion.

He did not give any details or a definite timeframe about what the Government plans to do, but said: “We’re not going to leave this hanging on interminably."

“I’d like to deal with it as quickly and as comprehensively when it’s practical to do so," he added. "Don’t ask me for a specific date."

 
 
FINE Gael is tearing itself apart over the threat of suicide being grounds for abortion – as a shadow is cast over the expert advice given to the Government on the issue.

A respected member of the expert group on abortion resigned last summer, but her departure was never disclosed by Health Minister James Reilly.

A leading family doctors' representative, Dr Ailis Ni Riain, was one of two GPs on the expert group, but she left the group in unexplained circumstances in May. Dr Ni Riain was to the forefront of research into crisis pregnancies and post-abortion counselling.

Her resignation only came to light last night, as tensions mount in Fine Gael over abortion, with the risk of suicide as a grounds for a termination becoming the new battleground.

Party ministers and TDs told the Irish Independent they have a concern about the threat of suicide being used as a pretext for obtaining an abortion where there is not actually any psychological risk to the mother.

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Fine Gael TDs must back legislation to deal with the European Court of Human Rights ruling that pregnant Irish women need certainty about legal abortion rights in Ireland, or else lose the party whip, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Speaking in Cardiff, he said the party had very clear rules on this. “People who are elected to the party that I lead ... act and vote in accordance with party decisions. And that is the way that it will be,” he said.

On what needs to be done now he said: “We are dealing with a very different generation of politicians, our country has moved to a different space, there are clearly very strongly-held views,” said Mr Kenny.

“The vast majority of people understand what needs to be done here, but they do not want to move to a position where you have abortion on demand in the country,” he went on.

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For those of us who don't speak politics, this means the parties vote as a block and not individually, meaning that Fine Gael TDs will all have to vote for the legislation the expert group says is necessary.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out a free vote for Fine Gael TDs on the issue of abortion.

Mr Kenny told reporters that his party had very clear rules and they involved people who were elected, voting in accordance with party decisions.

He was speaking in Cardiff where he is attending a meeting of the British-Irish Council.

Earlier, Junior Minister Brian Hayes said he still felt abortion was an issue on which TDs should be allowed a free vote.

The Dáil debates a motion from the Technical Group this week on abortion.

Mr Kenny also expressed confidence in Health Minister James Reilly, who he described as having taken on an enormous brief.

Meanwhile, Minister Reilly said there is no split between Government parties on how to proceed in dealing with the expert group report on abortion.

He said the Cabinet will only consider the report tomorrow, after which it is hoped there will be a good parliamentary debate with input from all sides.

Mr Reilly said there will hopefully be consensus in the debate on the way forward.

Minister Reilly repeated what he said in the Dáil some months ago, that this is an issue that he will not leave behind him as health minister.

He said that this will not be the seventh government not to take action required to clarify the issue.

Psychiatrist issues suicide decision warning

A leading psychiatrist, specialising in the care of pregnant women, has said legislators need to give "very careful consideration" to who has suffcient qualifications and experience to decide if a pregnant woman is at risk of suicide.

Dr Anthony McCarthy, one of only three perinatal psychiatrists in the country, warned against the introduction of what he called a "tick box" system of deciding whether or not a woman is entitled to an abortion.

Dr McCarthy, a consultant at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, was speaking ahead of the publication of the report of an expert group on abortion tomorrow, which is expected to recommend that two psychiatrists and an obstetrician be involved in cases where suicide poses a risk to the life of a mother.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Dr McCarthy said it is important that the risk of suicide is not ignored, or stigmatised. He said while cases are rare, they are real.

He said that one of the most common causes of maternal death in the UK and Ireland is suicide.

He said it is difficult to establish how common the problem is in Ireland, because most women in those circumstances here currently travel to England for an abortion, without presenting for care to professionals here.

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