A harrowing tale of a mother facing the loss of her baby due to a fatal foetal abnormality was told in the Dáil ahead of a vote on abortion legislation.
It has also emerged that Independent Alliance ministers have been told that their decision to defy cabinet collegiality and support an opposition bill on abortion will be a one-off.
Independent TD Clare Daly described an “inhuman” situation whereby an expectant mother knew her baby would not survive but was forced to go abroad for a termination.
The Dáil will today vote on legislation to allow abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, a bill the Government say is “unconstitutional”.
Ms Daly told the story of two sisters, one whose baby died in the womb. The other sister wrote to the TD outlining her situation where her baby had been diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormality. The woman outlined her concerns about having to go abroad for a termination.
“The dignity shown to the tiny corpse of my nephew in the hospital, in the mortuary and on his first and final journey home will not be extended to my son as he will have to be locked in the boot of the car on a ferry journey back across the Irish Sea or his ashes delivered by a courier weeks later, along with Amazon and eBay purchases.”
Ms Daly claimed this was “the Taoiseach’s Ireland”.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny denied he was blocking any changes in law and reiterated plans for an assembly in the autumn which will assess changes to abortion laws.
Mr Kenny said a bill by Independent TD Mick Wallace to allow for terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities, to be voted on in the Dáil today, would “not be touched by any medic in the country”.
“This bill is not good for women, it is bad for women,” he said. “It is inadequate and that means that it does not answer the question the good lady asked in her letter to the deputy [Daly].”
Those at the top of the medical profession had declared that proposals in Mr Wallace’s bill were “grossly and wholly inadequate”.
In a reference to counselling facilities, Mr Kenny said he believed “services surrounding these events and instances should be improved” but he stopped short of saying if terminations should be allowed or not.
Ms Daly asked Mr Kenny to publish the Attorney General’s advice, which the Government says advises that Mr Wallace’s bill is unconstitutional.
But the Taoiseach said the forthcoming assembly would help decide on the matter and denied that he was blocking any changes in the law.
“The deputy may not believe in or want that process, but it is something that is a way to look at the Eighth Amendment and its ramifications for the many women around the country who have had to deal with trauma, stress, and pressure,” said the Taoiseach.
“I agree that the services that should be provided for people can be improved.”
It has emerged that Independent Alliance Ministers have been granted a one-off free vote today to support Mr Wallace’s bill.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney confirmed that view to RTÉ, stating: “I think there is an understanding that this is a one-off exception.”
The minister added that he did not believe the situation would be repeated in the future.
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