Belfast Telegraph

Irish abortion referendum: Potential new legislation could face a block by No campaign TDs

By Shona Murray

The Irish government intends to enact legislation on abortion by the end of the year, if the referendum passes tomorrow - however its passage may be obstructed if enough TDs vote against it.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that Cabinet will publish the bill before the Dail breaks up this summer, and allow for debates and voting by Oireachtas before the end of the year.

"We anticipate having the legislation published before the summer recess and having it through the Dail and Seanad and enacted by the end of the year," Mr Varadkar said.

He was speaking at the final event of the Fine Gael members' campaign ahead of the country going to the polls this morning.

He called on all members of the Oireachtas to vote in favour of the legislation; even those opposed to it because they will be under obligation to implement the will of the Irish people.

"I hope and trust the vast majority of TDs will respect the decision of the Irish people if it is a 'Yes' vote.

"I do think the Irish people are going in to the referendum with their eyes open; they understand what it means to repeal the Eighth Amendment and they understand the proposals that are being put forward by the government on foot of the recommendations of the all party committee and the citizens assembly," said Mr Varadkar.

Notwithstanding the fact that the referendum result is still unknown, there are still several stumbling blocks ahead for the passing of the legislation.

The majority of Fianna Fail TDs are against repealing the Eighth Amendment, and many may vote accordingly, regardless of the referendum result.

At least three have indicated this. Fianna Fail TD for Waterford, Mary Butler, said she will actively "halt" the passage of the proposed legislation which she says is "too extreme".

Ms Butler said she would allow parts of the bill dealing with cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality but said: "I have a serious issue for abortion just because you don't want the baby.

"I personally will not hold up legislation for rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality. I will, however, scrutinise the bill word for word, line by line," she said. "This goes too far, it's too extreme."

Ms Butler also aimed a swipe at Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, for taking a pro-choice stance "as I call her the Minister for Children; not for the unborn".

Fianna Fail TD for Galway West, Eamon O'Cuiv, said on RTE's Six One last week that he would never support 12-week legislation.

Yesterday, he said he fears that in 'four or five years' a legislature providing for abortion on demand could get in to office by way of a partnership deal.

Dundalk FF TD Declan Breathnach, a staunch opponent of the legislation, said "common sense should prevail" when asked his intention.

Culture minister Josepha Madigan urged people to get out to vote.

"We've seen the catastrophic consequences of the Eighth Amendment over the last 35 years," she said. "I think that the nation is holding its breath at this stage, and we hope to have a collective sigh of relief on Saturday, but we cannot take anything for granted."

She said that the government had a duty to protect Irish women and, by voting Yes, the people would be giving them the mandate to do that.

Meanwhile, GPs advocating a No vote have claimed that asking doctors to carry out abortions without reason being offered cannot be described as healthcare.

Dr Brendan Crowley, one of the signatories, said the doctors were "not expressing a position on abortion one way or the other".

"However, we are united in the view that the Government's proposals would open the door to abortion on demand in a similar manner to that prevailing in Britain," he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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