Reilly criticises language used in debate

Health Minister James Reilly has criticised language used by pro-life senators who are opposing the passing of the Government’s abortion bill.

Dr Reilly said descriptions for terminations used by Fianna Fáil senator Jim Walsh last week had been “dramatic”, “offensive”, and “upsetting” for some people.

Fianna Fáil’s Seanad spokesman on health Marc MacSharry defended his colleague’s speech, saying there should be no “sanitising” of language in parliamentary debate.

Dr Reilly also said the idea that a foetus during a termination would experience pain was not true. Referring to research, he said the foetus had been found to be in an “induced state of sleep” or “unconscious”. He rejected an amendment to the bill on this issue.

He also rejected calls for training for doctors carrying out abortions to be enshrined in legislation, saying that practices often changed and should not be dictated by the legislator.

Mr MacSharry said it was legitimate to put issues on the record and was in the “interest of balance”, adding that parliament did “not have a watershed”.

However, he added that it had not been the intention of senators to offend anyone.

Labour senator Ivana Bacik yesterday said her colleagues “needed to be respectful” in the Upper House and that some remarks had caused offence.

“We don’t have to shock or appal people with our language.”

Meanwhile, Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald called for a police probe to be completed into the “dreadful” case of a woman who died in London after travelling there for an abortion.

Ms Fitzgerald described the case of a 32-year-old woman who travelled from Ireland to Britain for the procedure as a “traumatic and dreadful” tragedy.

She said that it was important that women recognise that there were services here for those returning home who had travelled for abortions.

It was reported yesterday that a woman, who was a foreign national but legally resident in Ireland, underwent an abortion in January last year at a clinic in west London. However, she died in a taxi hours after the procedure.

Senators have proposed debate on over 60 amendments for the report stage of the bill, which is scheduled to finish its passage through the Seanad today.


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