PUBLIC REPRESENTATIVES have mixed views on the proposed abortion legisation with Deputy Ann Phelan (Labour) stating that the legislation if passed will give ‘clarity to the medical profession’.
Views across the city and county are divided on the proposed legislation which is currently being debated in Dail Eireann.
The emotive issue was once again was pushed to the front of the political agenda following the death of Savita Halappanavar. Following her death there was widespread acknowledgement from all sides that legal clarity surrounding the circumstances ‘where a mother’s life is at risk’ was needed to enable the medical profession the support needed to carry out abortions in certain situations.
The bill is currently being debated and public representatives in Kilkenny have different views varying from opposistion in the case of Deputy John McGuinness to support in the case of Minister Phil Hogan.
Deputy Ann Phelan (Labour)
“A number of Governments have ran away from making this decision and it has taken over 20 years to produce the bill called “Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill”. I believe the public have always been ahead of legislatators on this important human issue. I respect all views on this issue and I know it’s very sensitive for all people, and we are legislating for X and X only including the element of sucide, however I believe it’s very restrictive and the cases that arise I believe will be rare. I think people out there think we are doing more.
“It will also give clarity to the medical profession so they are not open to having to interpret the law as it now stands. The majority of Irish people are not on any one side or the other, but the majority of the people are just compassionate and want to see a women/girl who finds her life at risk as a result of her pregnancy having the right to legally terminate that pregnancy.
“I as a legislator have a duty to legislate and uphold the decision of the highest court in the land the Supreme Court. This legislation will go some way in dealing legally with some of the crisis situations us women find ourselves in. I do not believe it will open the “floodgates” . I trust Irish women. I trust our medical profession and I trust the Irish people, I will supporting the legislation, but, I do believe we will be revisiting this issue again.
Deputy John Paul Phelan (Fine Gael)
“This is a highly emotive issue and lots of us have very strong feelings and opinions about abortion and the protection of the life of both the mother and her unborn child. But we have to legislate. We have to give doctors the freedom and the protection to do what they have to do in emergency situations.
“In recent weeks and months, I’ve listened to the expert views of quite a number of those working in the sector, gynaecologists, midwives and other medical professionals. Up to now, these very same medical professionals have been acting in the best interest of mother and child in emergency situations with the added stress and strain of working in a legal vacuum. This legislation goes part of the way towards providing some clarity in emergency situations.
“Each and every one of those very same professionals I have spoken with have reiterated the same point – that this entire debate seems to be focused on a threat of suicide and legislating for that. Such a situation is something which is only likely to happen in less than one per cent of cases.
“I will be listening intently to the hearings over the coming weeks and to the expert opinion of those working in the front line in the protection of the life of mothers and babies in this country.”
Minister Phil Hogan (Fine Gael)
“I am satisified that the Government has put in place a very strong position in terms of complying with the law, ensuring the safety of the mother in times of great difficulty during pregnancy while also being mindful of the constitutional requirement that the rights of the unborn have to be adhered to.
“The concerns of backbenchers opposed to the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013, published this week, will be addressed during meetings of the Oireachtas Health Committee over the coming weeks.”
Deputy John McGuinness (Fianna Fail)
“I am not in favour of the legislation as it stands. We continue to discuss the matter within the parliamentary party and are looking for clarification on the issue of suicide. I am not happy with the proposed legislation as it stands. We are discussing it at the moment but we haven’t reached any decisions.”
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said yesterday (Monday) that the Government must await the outcome of an Oireachtas health committee hearing before considering changes to the proposed abortion legislation.