Pro and anti campaigners unhappy with document

Groups from both sides of the abortion debate have hit out at the Coalition’s attempts to bring clarity to the issue.

Pro and anti campaigners unhappy with document

Individual organisations claimed in equal measure that the bill goes “too far” and “does not go far enough”.

Among the main supporters of the proposed legislation was the Abortion Rights Campaign organisation, which welcomed the move.

However, it said it was “deeply disappointed” by several sections of the bill.

“We are alarmed by the inclusion of the assessment of three doctors for termination when a woman is at risk of suicide, and Head 19 [of the bill], which replaces the relevant sections of the Offences against the Person Act 1861,” said spokeswoman Cathie Doherty.

“While we welcome the publishing of the heads of bill as an indication that our legislators are following through on their promise to enact this life-saving legislation, we feel certain elements will still prevent women from accessing their constitutional right.

“Requiring three doctors to assess a suicidal pregnant woman is outrageous. This legislation will be redundant if the women affected will continue to travel to England rather than face interrogation by multiple doctors.”

The organisation’s stance was mirrored by other pro-choice groups, including Action on X.

Spokeswoman Sinead Kennedy said: “The proposal to make a despairing, suicidal woman or girl go through at least three, and possibly six, examinations in order to end an unw-anted pregnancy, shows a callous disregard for women’s lives.

“They would be branded as criminals if they obtain abortions in Ireland, yet the Government is happy to see it done in Liverpool.”

Pro-life organisations were also critical, with the Life Institute, Pro-Life Campaign, and Youth Defence among the most vocal critics of the bill.

Arguing the approach is “ignoring medical evidence and allowing direct killing without term limits”, the Life Institute accused Fine Gael of “caving in” to Labour.

“Fine Gael made a deal with Labour — support our austerity measure, and we’ll give you abortion,” said spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain.

“But it is Fine Gael who will now become known as the abortion party.

“Labour represent less than 10% of the people now, according to polls, yet they are deciding for the whole country on this issue of life and death.”

The Pro-Life Campaign said Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s assurances that the bill would not open the abortion floodgates were “nonsense”. “The Taoiseach and Health Minister James Reilly have been talking up the proposal as very restrictive. But, in reality, these reassuring noises are empty and misleading,” said spokeswoman Caroline Simons. “What matters is what’s contained in the bill, and what’s in the bill is dangerous. For the first time, an Irish government is proposing to introduce a law that provides for the direct intentional targeting of the life of the unborn child.”

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