Fine Gael:  More than a dozen Fine Gael TDs have indicated publicly ahead of today’s Cabinet decision on abortion that they have reservations about legislation that would include the risk of suicide among the grounds for abortion.

While most of the TDs have said inside and outside the Dáil that they will study the proposals and partake fully in the extended debates, a number have publicly stated they oppose the proposition that the threat of suicide constitutes a risk to the life of the mother.

They include the Mayo TD John O’Mahony and James Bannon, who represents Longford and Westmeath.

Speaking ahead of today’s announcement by Cabinet, Mr O’Mahony said: “There is a lot of concern about the suicide. I will support any measures that supports the life of the unborn and that of the mother.

“I have to be convinced about any inclusion of suicide. I feel very strongly about this. People know my views. I will be voting according to my views on it,” he said.

When asked about suicide being included in the legislation, he said: “I hope that good judgment will prevail and I hope that [suicide] will be outside the legislation.”

Full article by Harry McGee here

Firstly, I would like to first express my deep sadness at the death of Savita Halappanavar and express my condolences to her husband, her family and her friends. I say that both as a parent and a grandparent.

I am very happy to be able to speak in the House on this issue. I think it is only right that every member is able to express their views on the report and to have their constituents hear the voice of the people they elected to represent them.

I have been contacted by hundreds of my constituents expressing their views on the matter, and I want to thank them for doing so. I have never had as much contact from my constituents on a single issue, which I believe speaks volumes about how seriously the people view the matter of the X Case.

As someone who remembers the 1983 referendum I welcome the calmer and rational debate that is taking place now. Those of us who disagreed with the wording in 1983 were subjected to a lot of aggravation at the time, and some of it happened in the work place. Thankfully today we can debate this question more maturely and with greater tolerance.

As Justice Ryan says in the Report, the European Court of Human Rights concluded that there is an existing constitutional right which was identified by the Supreme Court in the X Case, and it is logical and rational that this right should be available and enforceable in law. Article 47 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires this Oireachtas to implement its judgement. As this State ratified that Convention, we cannot make excuses for ignoring this report.

Read full article here

SECOND OPINION: At last women who give birth in Irish hospitals may have at least one of their human rights respected and vindicated. The Report of the Expert group on the Judgment in A, B and C v Ireland says that legislation to regulate access to lawful termination of pregnancy in Ireland is “constitutionally, legally and procedurally sound”.

The State must “provide effective and accessible procedures to establish a woman’s right to an abortion as well as access to such treatment”.

Maternal mortality rates are often quoted by anti-abortion campaigners to show that new legislation is not needed because Ireland’s maternity services are among the best in the world. These rates are meaningless when used to support an anti-abortion stance.

A 2012 analysis of maternal mortality in European perinatal health surveillance systems, including Ireland, shows that current data are insufficient for comparison between countries, because the tiny numbers and statistical variability from year to year are difficult to interpret.

Read full article by JACKY JONES here
You might be aware that Labour TDs including myself, did not support Clare Daly’s billon the X case last night. As your TD, I want to explain why I voted No.

In order to succeed in getting legislation for the X case, I, as a legislator, have to work with the reality of the political games that are being played in order to get X case legislation passed into law.

Fine Gael, Labour’s coalition partners would not support Clare Daly’s bill. I believe that Labour Ministers suggested to them that they should support it. But they did not wish to do so – they want to wait to debate the Expert Group Report which has been published recently. This is because Fine Gael and Labour agreed on the Expert Group process a year ago.

Fine Gael now want to see that through. It is clear on reading the Expert Group
report that the Expert Group believes legislation for the X case and regulations for doctors, is the way forward on this matter.

Fine Gael are a very conservative political party. They do not really want legislation. Labour will have to force them to support legislation.

Full letter here

A LABOUR TD has said that the party “has not voted against the idea of legislating for abortion”.

Ann Phelan TD was speaking following the defeat of Deputy Clare Daly’s abortion bill during Private Members’ Business in the Dáil last night.

Deputy Phelan said that the party “is determined to act on the Expert Group report on abortion and I call on all concerned citizens to help us to deliver the necessary legislation and regulation”.

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.

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

THE long-awaited report of the expert group on the judgment in A, B and C v Ireland was published yesterday, and much of what was contained therein will not have come as a shock to those who have been following the debate on the issue.

The creation of an expert group in the first place was a mechanism designed by the then government to put off the inevitable act of legislating for the X case judgment which was handed down by the Supreme Court in 1992 that said pregnant women had a constitutional right to an abortion where it was established that as a matter of probability she had a real and substantial risk to her life. 

Full article by Stephaine Lord here
The expert group report on abortion arose from a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights in 2005 by three women, alleging that restrictions on abortion in Ireland were in breach of their human rights.

One of the women was in acute distress. She lived in poverty and had four children already, all of whom were in care. She was attempting to reunite her family when she became pregnant accidentally. She felt she could not possibly cope with a fifth child, nor with the pregnancy. She could not get an abortion in Ireland, where, irrespective of her circumstances, she risked penal servitude for life. She went to Britain, where she had an abortion.

Another of the three women had been in treatment for cancer for three years and she too became pregnant unintentionally. Medical tests were contraindicated during the early stage of her pregnancy. She was unable to get clear medical advice and feared that her pregnancy would lead to a recurrence of her cancer. She, too, felt obliged to go to Britain for an abortion. The third case was less clear-cut.

The third and first cases were dismissed on technical grounds but on the case concerning the woman with cancer, it was found that the absence of clear guidelines in Ireland for when abortion was permissible was a breach of human rights. It was this ruling which led to the expert group report published yesterday.

Full article by Vincent Browne 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 father of the late Savita Halappanavar has made a public appeal to the Government to hold a public inquiry into his daughter’s death.

Andanappa Yalagi, speaking to a freelance video journalist at the family home in the Srinigar neighbourhood of Belgaum, Karnataka, in southwest India, said he was not happy with progress so far in finding out why his daughter died in Galway University Hospital on October 28th.

“We would like to appeal to the Irish Government to please consider funding a public inquiry. We are not happy with the progress made so far. We all don’t understand the HSE investigation. So once again I ask the Irish Government to consider funding a public inquiry.”

The parents of Ms Halappanavar (31) also said in an interview with the Times of India that they hoped her death might lead to legislative change that could save other people’s daughters in the future.

Full article by Kitty Holland here