Thursday, 29 November 2018
Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Report Stage (Resumed)
Article 40.3. 2° of the Constitution states: "The State shall, in particular, by its laws protect as best it may from unjust attack and, in the case of injustice done, vindicate the life, [and] person,...of every citizen."
In fact, there is an onus on us to follow the Constitution which includes the phrase "by its laws protect". From the beginning, the amendment has sought to do exactly what the Constitution enjoins us to do. I am surprised that the Minister did not accept the amendment in principle on Committee Stage. He would have probably got a better wording from the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. However, the spirit of the amendment is clear and it is very much in line with our constitutional obligations as legislators.
We hear a great deal about how doctors care and I do not dispute that they do. At least, I hope all doctors care. We have had rogue doctors in the past, however, and we should not pretend otherwise. There have been rogue individuals in every profession. Despite the fact that we trust doctors, this land is full of laws, regulations and guidelines which doctors can be severely penalised for failing to follow. The reason is that even though we trust all of these people - just as, I hope, we politicians are trusted by them - we must ensure that no professional can act in a way that does not conform with good standards. A general question has been asked as to whether some allegation is being made here, but that is not so. Every profession is subject to the law. It is nothing new and there is no reason to make an exception in this case.