A leading pro-life group has said the fact that a bill legalising abortion on demand to 6 months was supported by a narrow majority of TDs shows the Dáil is out of touch with the people on this issue.
“When it comes to abortion, mostly because of the media’s support for liberalising campaigns, the extremists in the Dáil seem to be in charge,” Megan Ní Scealláin of the Life Institute said.
“A recent Irish Times poll showed very little support for changes to the law, yet a majority of TDs last night voted to legalise abortion on demand to 6 months, which is far, far more extreme than the 12-week model put before voters in the referendum.”
“They also voted to support extending abortion on disability grounds, which can only be described as cruelty dressed up as compassion – and to scrap the 3-day wait period, even though that may save up to 1,000 babies from abortion a year.”
“Sinn Féín, and Ministers like Catherine Martin and Neale Richmond are completely out of touch with the public on this. They have aligned themselves with extremists on abortion and that needs to be highlighted.”
“Stephen Donnelly says there were 8,500 abortions in 2022 – the rise is both steep and appalling. How many abortions does Bríd Smith possibly want to happen?” she asked.
There were 67 votes in favour of People Before Profit TD Brid Smith’s Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) (Amendment) Bill, while 64 TDs voted against. There were eight abstentions. The vote on Wednesday night also saw the Government lose on a proposal to freeze Brid Smith TD’s bill for 12 months.
All six Labour TDs voted to support the legislation, along with all six Social Democrats, and all five People Before Profit TDs. Independents Cathal Berry, Joan Collins, Catherine Connolly, Neasa Hourigan, Verona Murphy, Thomas Pringle, and Matt Shanahan backed the Bill.
Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond voted in favour of the Bill, while one of his colleagues, Emer Higgins, abstained. TDs Joe Carey, Heather Humphries, Helen McEntee and Leo Varadkar were all either absent/paired/no vote recorded. 24 Fine Gael TDs voted against the Bill.
Ten Green TDs voted in favour, while Eamon Ryan abstained. Sinn Fein overwhelmingly backed the bill – with 32 of its TDs voting in favour; none voted against the Bill, however four of its TDs, including party leader Mary Lou McDonald, were either absent/paired/no vote recorded.
Aontu’s Peadar Toibin voted against the Bill, along with 25 Fianna Fail TDs, 14 Independents, including all members of the Rural Independent Group.
There were five Fianna Fail abstentions, which included Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and six Fianna Fail TDs who were either absent or did not record a vote. Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail did not vote, along with labour TD Sean Sherlock, and six independent TDs: Richard O’Donoghue, Marc McSharry, Michael Lowry, Marian Harkin, Joe McHugh, and Violet-Anne Wynne.
Speaking during a Dail debate on the Bill last week, Brid Smith slammed Ireland’s abortion laws – claiming the law as it stands “does not reflect the spirit of repeal”.
Smith, who has spoken publicly about having an abortion, said the Bill would amend Ireland’s Abortion Act to “provide for abortion on request by lifting the 12-week limit. It would abolish the three-day waiting period and allow for abortion on the grounds of fatal foetal anomaly that is likely to lead to the death of a foetus within one year of birth and it would, importantly, decriminalise the provision of abortion”.
She said the Bill was being brought forward to “update” Ireland’s Abortion law – after it was revealed that abortions increased by 24 percent last year, with over 8,500 abortions taking place.
An estimated 31,000 babies have been aborted since Ireland voted in favour of repealing the eighth amendment.
The Irish Independent reports that a senior source said there “was some surprise” that Government ministers backed the Bill, given that committee hearings on the issue have only just begun. The bil will now go to Committee stage and it is likely that it will fall at a later stage.
There have been calls for the Government to launch a full specific Oireachtas Committee to analyse the Abortion Review.
Speaking on Thursday, TD Peadar Tóibín said that the review sought to “radically change the abortion law that people voted upon”.
“It’s incredibly important that the necessary research, analysis and examination of the Abortion Review is carried out,” he said.
As reported by Gript, in a revealing exchange at the Oireachtas Health Committee today, the Chair of the Abortion Review admitted that she had not spoken to even one woman who changed her mind during the three-day waiting period.
This is despite the fact figures have shown that nearly 4,000 mothers did not attend a second abortion appointment. Mr Tóibín said the 3 day wait was a key contributing factor, stating:
“What really amazed people today was that fact that neither the author of the review nor her team actually spoke to one mother who availed of the 3 day wait time and proceeded to have her child. Nearly 4,000 mothers did not attend the second abortion meeting.
“While there are different reasons for this, one of the main reasons is the purpose of the 3 day wait, that thousands of mothers changed their mind and are now raising their child. The author of the review never sought to reach out to, speak to, phone or email one mother or child who is the beneficiary of a key protection that they seek to delete. This is astounding”.
He continued: “Abortion is an irreversible decision. The baby cannot be brought back to life after and abortion. The enormity of this decision should allow for some time to think things through. It is the Human condition that we all make mistakes, none of us can say that we haven’t made mistakes, especially at a time of stress or crisis”.
Meanwhile, People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy attracted widespread reaction after he posted about the “pro-choice” Bill’s passing online.
He described its passing as an “incredible victory” — adding that it was time to “push for it to be implemented in law as soon as possible”.
Fine Gael (1)
Sinn Féin (32)
Social Democrats (6)
Fianna Fáil (25)
Fine Gael (24)
Fianna Fáil (5)
Fine Gael (1)
Fianna Fáil (6)
Fine Gael (4)
Ceann Comhairle (1) Séan Ó Fearghail
Dáil Record can be viewed here
This article first appeared on Gript.ie and is published here with permission
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