Growing Number of Ministers Oppose Abortion Plan


Government Chief Whip Joe McHugh is expected to adopt a similar stance to Tánaiste Simon Coveney on the abortion referendum. The Donegal TD will back changes to existing laws, but he will stop short of supporting abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.


In a statement, Mr McHugh said he would support the holding of a referendum. “I retain concerns over the Oireachtas Committee proposal for unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks. I will examine Minister Harris’s proposals when they are published.”


Sources said the attitude being taken by Mr Coveney and Mr McHugh is likely to be followed by other Fine Gael TDs.


There are now essentially three different approaches being taken within the party. The first is led by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris who back the radical abortion on demand proposals of the Oireachtas Committee.


Mr Coveney is now viewed by party colleagues as a middle-ground leader for people with conflicting views on the issue. He believes change is necessary but not on the scale being proposed.


And finally there are a number of TDs, including junior minister Patrick O’Donovan, who believe the Eighth Amendment should be retained. Mr O'Donovan said he will not support the repeal of the Eighth Amendment because there is too much legal uncertainty of what would happen as a result.


Mr O'Donovan was speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics the day before a special Cabinet meeting to make a final decision on how to proceed with the expected referendum on the Eighth Amendment.


Mr O'Donovan said he supports the holding of a referendum and while he will wait to see what is proposed, his view is that he will not support repealing the Eighth Amendment because it leaves too much uncertainty about what happens to the right to life of the unborn, acknowledged in the 1983 amendment.


Mr O'Donovan said he expects this issue will eventually have to be determined by the Supreme Court.


The junior minister also said that they are being asked to go with a piece of legislation now but have no idea what a future Oireachtas could decide.

Irish Independent. January 30. RTÉ. January.

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