Seanad debates

Monday, 10 December 2018

Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Committee Stage (Resumed)


2:00 pm

Photo of Rónán MullenRónán Mullen (Independent) | Oireachtas source

Before I comment on the amendments, I will address one point the Minister made. The Minister stated that he was certainly not devaluing a woman's life and that we have come so far from that since the referendum. I have a real problem with that kind of political language because of its implication. The eighth amendment was sought and put in place to protect mothers and children. It proceeded from a place of enormous respect for women's lives and dignity. The loss of the eighth amendment and this extensive legislation for abortion disrespects a hell of a lot of unborn women. The Minister is entitled to his political view in stating that we have moved away from the devaluing of women's lives by repealing the eighth amendment but when he expresses that political view, he makes a statement about the 34% of people who voted "No", and many more, perhaps, who voted "Yes" for abortion on exceptional grounds, and puts them in the category of people who were complicit in devaluing women's lives. It is a statable opinion but the Minister can understand it is one that many will find deeply offensive. They see themselves right now as much better champions of women's dignity than the Minister because they are defending unborn women's lives as well as, fully and to the hilt, the lives and welfare of women in pregnancy.

Having regard to the reason I would oppose these amendments, I heard the Minister's rationale. It seems to me that, by providing for allowing abortion to be carried out by somebody who is not one of the certifying doctors, this would surely see a situation where some doctors would be more likely to be willing to certify if somebody else was carrying out the procedure that would have the effect of killing the unborn child. That would be the case for anybody who would be so-called "pro-choice" but not so comfortable with abortion that he or she would be prepared to do it. Such persons exist. The effect of this amendment would be to widen the pool of medics who would be prepared to certify readily for abortions.

It also introduces an "as soon as may be" requirement not currently present in the section which would diminish time for reflection.

These amendments would do real harm. When one remembers what is at stake here - we are supposed to be operating within a category of medical necessity - surely interventions that are considered to be medically necessary should be undertaken with great responsibility and great care for mothers and for the unborn children involved unless this section is really about bringing in abortion on a more liberal basis in the second trimester.


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