Minister denies cabinet colleagues confusing issue of abortion liberalisation
Terminations are currently only allowed in the Irish Republic when the life of the mother is at risk,
A Government minister has rejected claims that differing views among cabinet colleagues on the proposed liberalisation of abortion laws is creating confusion.
Employment Minister Regina Doherty denied that ministers were muddying the waters on the referendum on the Eighth Amendment and causing issues for the campaign before it officially gets under way.
Ms Doherty defended her remarks she made that there was a “job of work to be done” if people were to be persuaded to back repeal of the constitutional amendment and legislate for abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
What I said yesterday was that if we do not clearly explain to the Irish people where the 12 weeks came from, well then I fear it won’t pass Regina Doherty, Employment Minister
“It’s not going to pass itself,” she said.
Ms Doherty added: “What I said yesterday was that if we do not clearly explain to the Irish people where the 12 weeks came from, well then I fear it won’t pass. But clearly we will clearly explain to the Irish people.”
Terminations are currently only allowed in the Irish Republic when the life of the mother is at risk, including from suicide, and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.
Campaigners are seeking to liberalise the regime to allow for unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.
Asked whether Government ministers were muddying the waters on this issue and that it was creating issues for the Government campaign, Ms Doherty said: “I reject that.
“I don’t think there is anybody creating problems or muddying the waters.
“I think you have people reflecting their own views which is what we are accepting and allowing for in a vote of conscience with no whip in here.
“I wouldn’t expect anybody with a personal view to campaign for something that they don’t believe in.”
The Eighth Amendment for me ... is forcing Irish women to go and have medical procedures outside of their own country Regina Doherty, Employment Minister
Ms Doherty said the status quo needed to change.
“We can’t continue with the current status,” she said.
“The Eighth Amendment for me is not doing what people think it’s doing. It is not protecting, what it is doing is it is forcing Irish women to go and have medical procedures outside of their own country and that’s not on for me.”
The Government has formally agreed to hold a referendum on the Eighth Amendment.
The move comes after the Committee on the Eighth Amendment published its report recommending repeal of Article 40.3.3, which recognises the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child.
The report stated that constitutional provision prohibiting the termination of pregnancy in Ireland was unfit for purpose and in need of reform.
Ms Doherty said the referendum would most likely be in June and that the Government will consider a draft legislation on Tuesday.