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

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 810 No. 2

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An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The amendment does not arise as a consequence of any other amendment proposed in the Bill. It must be related to another amendment.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The amendment relates to the Title which is false and erroneous in the extreme. It should be called what it is.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt That is the Deputy’s opinion.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath It is not about the protection of life during pregnancy. It is about the deliberate killing of unborn children.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Ceann Comhairle has ruled the amendment out of order. We must move on.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath It should be called the termination of pregnancy Bill.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The amendment is declaratory and does not arise as a consequence of any other amendment proposed in the Bill.

  Amendment No. 3 not moved.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I move amendment No. 4:

    In page 5, line 14, after “of” to insert “maternal”.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins I move amendment No. 5:

    In page 5, line 14, after “Life” to insert “and Health”.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy I move amendment No. 6:

    In page 5, lines 15 to 17, to delete all words from and including “on” in line 15 down to and including “provisions” in line 17 and substitute “not later than 30 days following enactment”.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett We believe such legislation should be enacted quickly and not left in the hands of the Minister. We have waited too long already.

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The absence of a specific commencement date is due to the fact that operational issues will require to be addressed before the Bill can be commenced. For example, under section 11, the Health Service Executive, HSE, needs to establish a panel of medical practitioners for the purpose of the formal medical review provisions in the Bill. This process will entail contacting the relevant bodies seeking and receiving the relevant nominations and appointing the identified medical practitioners.

In addition, under section 12, the HSE must put in place the required administrative facilities that will be necessary to enable the review committee, drawn from the review panel, to perform its functions.

I wish to reassure Members that this is not some sort of delaying tactic as has been suggested by Deputy Boyd Barrett but a necessary provision to ensure all the requirements of the Bill are in place to enable its implementation when it is commenced. For that reason, I do not propose to accept the amendment.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Obviously, the Bill is rushed and could not be done fast enough. The Minister is going to stay here all night but now we find out that the arrangements for the institutions are not even made. I know that from my hospital in south Tipperary. No one knows what is happening but the general threat is that hospitals which do not conform to and perform the Bill’s provisions will be starved of cash and dealt with. It is appalling.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins Will there be a requirement for physical infrastructure changes in any of the approved centres?

Deputy Alex White: Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White I am not aware of any issue arising as to physical structures requiring to be altered.

  As for Deputy Mattie McGrath’s contention, the argument could not be possibly sustained that this Bill is being rushed. The opposite is manifestly the case.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Of course it is being rushed.

Deputy Alex White: Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White There is no basis for alleging this legislation is being rushed.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath This morning the Taoiseach said he wanted to get rid of the Bill before tonight. What does the Minister of State call that?

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly We have been waiting 21 years for it.

  Question, "That the words proposed to be deleted stand", put and declared carried.

  Amendment declared lost.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Amendments Nos. 7, 72 and 97 are related and may be discussed together.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins I move amendment No. 7:

    In page 5, between lines 24 and 25, to insert the following:
      “ “appropriately qualified practitioner” means a general practitioner, medical practitioner, midwife, obstetrician, gynaecologist, as defined in this Act;”.
This amendment is about broadening the Bill. That does not mean we are supportive of it in its present draft. It proposes to broaden those qualified to be able to give a certification on whether a woman is suicidal.

  Having three medical personnel determining whether a woman is suicidal is, however, a disgrace. The provision in this regard in Deputy Clare Daly’s Bill was much more appropriate. The cases of young women in HSE care who were sent to Britain for terminations were determined by one psychiatrist. I believe there should be only one psychiatrist dealing with a woman in a suicidal situation. This amendment aims to broaden those qualified personnel who should be able to deal with certification and not just confine it to an obstetrician. For example, an obstetrician may only meet a woman once or twice during a pregnancy. Her general practitioner, GP, would be much more aware of the woman’s overall medical condition and history.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath These amendments are using words lightly and glibly. We were told by Women Hurt by Abortion, a group which was not allowed to give its evidence at the committee hearings on the Bill, that they would have lied and claimed they were suicidal. This is just playing with words and semantics. I think it is very distasteful.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly This is primarily a health matter and concerns a medical opinion. The status and qualification of the medical practitioners is particularly relevant. The amendments seek to broaden the remit as to what defines an appropriate medical practitioner.

Given that it is a relatively routine procedure in terms of termination and where suicide is a risk, it is a medical opinion which in any other scenario would be dictated by a psychiatrist and the person’s doctor. Who knows one’s medical condition better than one’s GP? They are eminently qualified to have an insight into one’s mental health and physical well-being. We make points about how great our maternity services are here. However, the chances of a pregnant woman meeting a gynaecologist or an obstetrician when accessing our public maternity services are few and far between.


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