Politicians Eager to Rush Through Abortion Legislation
The final two days of the Dáil term are to be set aside for TDs to debate legislation that will formally allow for the introduction of abortion.
Attorney General Séamus Woulfe's office has set a deadline of six weeks for drawing up laws based on the proposal presented to the public before last Friday's referendum. However, it is not expected that the first legal abortion will actually take place in Ireland until December or January.
Health Minister Simon Harris is now expected to bring new laws to the Dáil on July 10 and 11, just as TDs rise for their summer break.
The government hopes that it will be possible to quickly pass the legislation over to the Oireachtas Health Committee. The committee will sit over the summer months to tease through the details. Sources say this would allow the Dáil to formally approve an abortion regime in early September.
"That means that even if we have a general election in the autumn the legislation will be passed. The other preparatory work can continue outside of the political realm regardless of who is in power," a government source said.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has already indicated that he supports the idea of holding Dáil sittings over the summer period if necessary to expedite passage of the abortion legislation.
He also moved to restrict the freedom of Fianna Fáil TDs and Senators to propose amendments to the bill by insisting that all amendments must go through the party’s health spokesman, Stephen Donnelly.
While Fianna Fáil has freedom of conscience on the issue, some deputies indicated they would try to amend the legislation. A number have argued that abortion in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities should be allowed but say the 12 weeks proposal is a step too far.
By restricting such TDs and senators from tabling amendments, Mr Martin has effectively limited their options to voting for, against or abstaining on the legislation.
Mr Martin told a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party that he expected every member of the party to vote in favour of the legislation and implement the will of the people.
Irish Independent. May 29. The Irish Times. May 31.