"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."
ALAN SHATTER, FINE GAEL MINISTER FOR JUSTICE, MAKES STIRRING SPEECH IN DÁIL TONIGHT POINTING OUT HOW THE 8TH AMENDMENT ENDANGERS WOMEN'S HEALTH AND FORCES THEM TO SUFFER.