‘We Don’t Need Lawyers Around A Woman’s Bed’


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Labour TD Joan Burton

Last night.

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

Was It Really Unconstitutional?

14 thoughts on “‘We Don’t Need Lawyers Around A Woman’s Bed’

  1. The Real Jane

    I agree with Joan. We certainly do not need lawyers around a woman’s bed. We need the 8th repealed and any legal restrictions on abortion removed from legislation so that women can make necessary decisions in private with their medical advisers.

  2. bisted

    …Savita might have been better served with a lawyer round her bed than some of the ghouls that were circling it…

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      More women than Savita have been killed by the 8th amendment. Denial of medical care should not be enshrined in the constitution. The 8th needs to go now.

        1. Daisy Chainsaw

          Savita died from sepsis due to her cervix being open for so long while she miscarried over a 2 day period. The foetal heartbeat of a dying foetus was prioritised over a sentient woman. If Savita had been given the abortion of the dying, miscarrying foetus when she requested it, as is the normal practice in civilised countries that don’t reduce pregnant women to tupperware, sepsis wouldn’t have set in and in all probablility she’d be alive today.

          1. jungleman

            In fairness now, I don’t think that was the finding.

            I’m in favour of repealing the 8th. But let’s not be dishonest.

    2. mildred st. meadowlark

      Between Savita and that poor woman left on life support, having someone fighting for their rights is no bad thing. That said, no woman should have to be in a position where there are lawyers arguing over who has the greater right to life, a woman with a life and a home and a history, or a foetal heartbeat.

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