Abortion legislation set for further Seanad debate

Abortion legislation set for further Seanad debate
Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames

The Seanad will today begin two days of debate on possible amendments to the abortion bill.

The Government could lose more members opposed to the controversial suicide clause after two Fine Gael senators, Fidelma Healy Eames and Paul Bradford, voted against the yesterday.

Ms Healy Eames had confirmed earlier that she could not support the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 as it stands, claiming it is unconstitutional.

“I don’t want to lose the Fine Gael party whip but I do want to exercise my human right to make a conscientious decision,” Ms Healy Eames said.

“Almost every western democracy provides for a free vote on issues like abortion. Why don’t we have the confidence to trust our parliamentarians to make the right decision?”

Five Fine Gael TDs, including former junior minister Lucinda Creighton, have already lost the party whip after their backbench revolt during two night sessions in the Dáil last week.

Mr Bradford, who is married to Ms Creighton, claimed that abortion goes against the fabric of Fine Gael’s election promise.

The landmark laws enshrine a woman’s right to a termination if her life is at risk, including from suicide.

They passed through the Dail last week with a comfortable majority of 127 votes to 31.

After yesterday voting to send the bill into committee stage, today the Seanad will begin considering more detailed amendments to the Bill.

Like in the Dáil, there are many changes on the table - some of which would extend the bill to the victims of rape and incest, and some of which would scale back the criteria under which an abortion is allowed.

Because the bill has already passed the Dáil, any amendments made now would have to go back to the lower house to be approved again, making it unlikely for any changes will be accepted.

This means the main issue now is whether the government benches will survive without any more defections. A handful of other senators are known to have issues with the suicide clause, and could vote to get rid of it when the vote is finally held.

The closing stages of the legislation are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday next week, when the final vote to pass it will be held.

The bill then goes to the President to be signed into law.

More on this topic

Brian Keegan: Covid-19 funding costs set to turn up the heat on extending the state retirement age to 67 next yearBrian Keegan: Covid-19 funding costs set to turn up the heat on extending the state retirement age to 67 next year

Irish pension schemes could be exposed in 2020Irish pension schemes could be exposed in 2020

Irish Examiner View: Pensions apartheid highlighted again Irish Examiner View: Pensions apartheid highlighted again

Inspirational longevity: Working at 80Inspirational longevity: Working at 80

More in this Section

Man hit garda with pellet gun shot, court toldMan hit garda with pellet gun shot, court told

Man arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit murderMan arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit murder

Governing body claims insurers refusing to indemnify drivers over motorsport accidentsGoverning body claims insurers refusing to indemnify drivers over motorsport accidents

Child poverty to affect 23% without economic recoveryChild poverty to affect 23% without economic recovery


Lifestyle

Liz O’Brien talks to Niall Breslin about his admiration for frontline staff, bereavement in lockdown, his new podcast, and why it's so important for us all just to slow down.Niall Breslin talks about losing his uncle to coronavirus

Podcasts are often seen as a male domain — see the joke, 'What do you call two white men talking? A podcast'.Podcast corner: Three new podcasts from Irish women that you should listen to

Esther McCarthy previews some of the Fleadh’s Irish and international offerings.How to attend the Galway Film Fleadh from the comfort of your own couch

Whether you’re on staycation or risking a trip away, Marjorie Brennan offers suggestions on novels for a wide variety of tastesThe best fiction books for the beach and beyond this summer

More From The Irish Examiner