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 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2013: Message from Select Sub-Committee
 Header Item Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013: Report Stage (Resumed)

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 810 No. 2

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Estimates for Public Services 2013: Message from Select Sub-Committee

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Select Sub-Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has completed its consideration of the following Revised Estimate for public services for the year ending 31 July 2013 - Vote 29.

Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013: Report Stage (Resumed)

Debate resumed on amendment No. 8:

    In page 5, lines 26 and 27, to delete "section 9 certification".
- (Deputy Peadar Tóibín)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy Healy-Rae was in possession but is not present, so I call Deputy Boyd Barrett. I ask Deputies who are not taking part in the debate to leave the Chamber.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I will refer to some of the Technical Group's section 9 amendments that are in this grouping, but I also wish to comment on some of the amendments tabled by the Minister of State, Deputy Lucinda Creighton, and others who are opposed full stop to the section, who are coming at it from a different perspective. Deputy Tóibín and the Minister of State referred a number of times to the concern they have about the floodgates opening. It is important to respond to this point. In recent hours I listened to the debate, which often got bogged down in the important and necessary detail of the Bill and the arguments around that detail. It is important to say that in so far as the term "floodgates" is even useful in this debate - I am not sure it is - the floodgates are open. Whatever happens with this Bill will not affect one jot the number of desperate Irishwomen who seek and receive abortions. Desperate women whose health or whose lives are at risk, desperate women who are suicidal, desperate women who get the awful news that their baby has been diagnosed with a fatal abnormality, desperate women in a whole range of circumstances will still make the decision to have an abortion. The only issue is where they will have that abortion, not whether they will have it. Those who profess to be pro-life or anti-abortion when they make their arguments fail to acknowledge that fundamental point. Abortion is an Irish reality and Irishwomen in their thousands are forced to travel to Britain to receive the treatment they need or want.

In spite of those Deputies who propose to strike section 9 from the Bill, although it is clear the Government will not accept their arguments, women will still seek those abortions. It will make no difference. The Deputies have to answer that question if they are addressing these issues in good conscience. If women need or are going to seek those abortions in any case, do those Deputies believe it is acceptable or right that those women are forced to go abroad and be away from their homes, with all the stigma, without support and in spite of the costs involved? I believe it is unacceptable, and those who call themselves pro-life and express a concern for the care of women must address that point.

The Minister of State, Deputy Creighton, made the argument that it was the job of the Oireachtas, not the Supreme Court, to legislate. The implication that what we are doing in legislating for the X case was somehow dictated by the Supreme Court, which was going outside its remit, is a very legalistic and convoluted argument that does not stand up at all. The Supreme Court has not dictated to the Parliament. We know that because its judgment was made 20 years ago, yet the Parliament still has not legislated for it. It was forced to legislate not because of anything the Supreme Court said but because of the tragic case of Savita Halappanavar. That is why we are here today. It is why we have finally been forced to deal with this issue. We had tragedy after tragedy and then, most recently, we had the awful and terrible case of Savita Halappanavar. The argument made by the Minister of State in comparing the threat of suicide in this situation to a threat of suicide by a person who may be deported is a terrible one that tries to undermine the seriousness of that threat.


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