Labour TD Joan Burton
Cabinet ministers failed to agree on a Government position in relation to Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace’s proposed bill to allow for abortions in cases of fatal foetal illnesses.
A vote on the bill – which has been deemed unconstitutional by the Attorney General Maire Whelan, according to Fine Gael Health Minister Simon Harris – will take place tomorrow.
Mr Wallace has called for the Attorney General’s advice to be published and to let the courts decide where it’s unconstitutional or not.
Further to this.
This morning, on Newstalk Breakfast, presenters Ivan Yates and Chris Donoghue spoke to Labour TD Joan Burton, Independent Alliance TD Finian McGrath and Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath about the bill.
From the discussion…
Ivan Yates: “Joan…you were in Government and voted down Clare Daly’s bill and I remember at the time because Labour perhaps is the vanguard of Pro Choice here and a woman’s right to choose. What are you going to do next Thursday?”
Joan Burton: “Well, first of all, we have, as we had then, very serious legal advice because the bill, to a large extent, is a copy of the previous Clare Daly bill and I’ll be honest and, you know, it’s a difficult point but we have advice that the bill is unconstitutional. That’s separate from the advice that we received when we were members of the Government. We favour a referendum on the 8th amendment. And I favour the 8th amendment, with the will of the people, in a referendum being taken out of the constitution so we can then legislate constitutionally and properly. What…”
Yates: “What are you going to vote?”
Burton: “Oh we are, our parliamentary party will meet later today, we haven’t made a decision but there is a problem with Mick Wallace’s bill. Now if Finian McGrath is saying there’s a solution, can I make a suggestion then. Why not have the Oireachtas committee, the health committee meet next week and bring in a panel of both doctors and of lawyers with expertise in this area, as we did in relation to the X case…”
Chris Donoghue: “Are you saying forget the Citizens’ Assembly?”
Burton: “I think the actual expert evidence should come first and I’ve said that before the election, it’s still my view. Because, this remember is about women, a horrible, horrible dilemma, it’s about parents with a dreadful dilemma…”
Burton: “I’m not asking for you to forget the Citizens’ Assembly, I’m saying we don’t need abortion wars in Ireland. What we need is care for women who are pregnant with an extraordinarily and exceptionally difficult pregnancy. We don’t need lawyers around a woman’s bed, we actually need doctors…”
Listen back in full here (Part 4)
Previously: Publish And Be Damned