“This is a Bill to allow for a termination of a pregnancy in Ireland, where the foetus has a condition which is incompatible with life. This is an issue which I think has probably affected every Deputy in the House – it’s one which the Minister For Justice himself has described as an intolerable cruelty and I think it is motivated really by my desire to see something done in relation to this matter.
We’re talking about women and families, who in the main are dealing with much-wanted pregnancies who experience a diagnosis which is clearly devastating – that the foetus is not going to survive – and having to deal with that grief is compounded by the body-blow that they are then forced to leave this country – they are not given adequate information.
The information they are given is given in a climate of secrecy and then they are not allowed bring the remains of the foetus back – it can sometimes get posted back. We’ve heard stories of some people bringing it back in the boot of a car.
Now this is something that has been correctly taken, in my opinion to the United Nations as a human rights violation and as inhuman and degrading treatment. And I think that what we have to say is that this is happening now. There are large numbers of people who experience this in Ireland every year.
One Liverpool hospital has made a special arrangement, such are the numbers involved – and over 90% of Irish people say that they believe a pregnancy should be terminated in these circumstances.
And the only argument put up against that is the unpublished opinion of the present Attorney General who we are told said that it won’t be constitutional.
Now I have to respond to that by saying that it’s a fact that there are other opinions by eminent legal people and by a former Attorney General which disagrees with that view – and the only way we resolve the conflict is if we bring in legislation and have the Supreme Court adjudicate on it.
The State’s previous Attorney General made the argument that I’m making now that in the case of ‘D’ versus Ireland at the European Court of Human Rights – where the Court found that there was at least a tenable argument which could seriously be considered by the domestic courts to the effect that the foetus was not an unborn for the purposes of ‘Article 43.3’, or that even if it was an unborn, it’s right to life was not actually engaged as it had no prospect of life outside the womb – so in actual fact the State has previously argued that it would be constitutional to legislate in this circumstance.
Now I’m aware that Minister [Alex] White and Minister [Alan] Shatter and other ministers have stated publicly that they believe that this issue should be addressed.
What I’m saying to the Government is that in your lifetime, this won’t be addressed unless we move legislation on it, bring it to the Supreme Court, have them adjudicate and end the misery for these families so they can deal with it as a normal tragedy, without the added burden of having to travel out of the country in secrecy.”
Independent TD Clare Daly in the Dail today.
Previously: A Vital Amendment