TDs reject ‘means-test’ for access to abortion

Attempts to ban public funding for abortions could lead to means testing for those seeking terminations and discrimination against impoverished women, TDs have warned.

The comments came as the Dáil continued to debate the passage of legislation to enact the Yes vote to grant women access to abortions.

Independent TD Carol Nolan had moved a motion in report stage to stop public funds being used for terminations.

Carol Nolan

Several TDs said the move went against the outcome of the referendum and would lead to a two-tier health system for women in Ireland.

Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher said the motion amounted to “means testing” for women in need of an abortion, while Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Brid Smith said the proposal was not “logical, equal, or fair” and would only allow rich women access abortion.

Ms Nolan said taxpayers were being asked to pay for “killing” while Independents Mattie McGrath and Peadar Tóibín backed her motion.

Lisa Chambers of Fianna Fáil warned that, without public funding for terminations, women would be forced to remain pregnant against their will.

Citizens did not vote for inequality or to erect barriers to the most impoverished in society, said the Mayo TD.

Jonathan O’Brien of Sinn Féin said it was “rubbish” to say that if no public funds went on abortions, more money would be available for other health services.

He said the World Health Organisation had found that 7m women are admitted to hospitals worldwide every year due to unsafe abortions.

Health Minister Simon Harris said the intention was to make abortion “free and safe” in Ireland and not to divide people.

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