herald

Sunday 20 April 2014

Minister slams 'unworkable abortion-suicide proposal

MINISTER of State Jan O'Sullivan has dismissed as "entirely impractical" a proposal that six consultants must agree on a suicidal woman being granted an abortion.

The proposal, in an initial draft of legislation, has increased tensions between the Coalition partners over laws to deal with the X Case.

Originally it was planned to bring the draft legislation to Cabinet on Tuesday, but this is now unlikely.

Labour ministers are said to be concerned by the suicide clause in the draft legislation, branding it "unworkable" and their concerns have increased the unrest between the two Coalition partners.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has acknowledged there are differences of opinion both between the two Government partners and within the two political parties themselves.

"There are a number of sides to the debate, but the objective of the legislation is to make sure women know they are safe during pregnancy and that doctors know they can take the necessary decisions to protect the lives of the mother."

Mr Varadkar said he would not comment on the suggestion that six doctors would have to be consulted before an abortion could be carried out on a woman who says she is suicidal.

The document, drawn up by Health Minister James Reilly is understood to recommend a panel of two obstetricians and four psychiatrists carry out the assessments.

A difficulty highlighted by one Labour source is that there are "only three perinatal psychiatrists in the State so that aspect alone causes huge problems".

Speaking on The Week In Politics Jan O'Sullivan, who is vice-chairman of the Oireachtas Health Committee, said "on a personal note, the idea that you need six professionals seems entirely impractical".

Nonetheless "we are going to bring forward legislation".

csheehy@herald.ie

Opinion

Entertainment News