Varadkar opposed to abortion for rape victims
By Mary Regan, Political Reporter
Monday, May 03, 2010
ALLOWING rape victims to terminate their pregnancies could lead to “abortion on demand” according to controversial Fine Gael TD, Leo Varadkar.
The front-bench spokes-person on enterprise also said he “went easier” on Tánaiste Mary Coughlan in the Dáil “because she is a woman” in an effort to dismiss claims that he had been sexist towards her.
The conservative TD and medical doctor said he would “not be in favour of abortion” and, although he is not religious, he would “accept a lot of Catholic social thinking”.
In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled in the X case that a woman had a right to an abortion if there was “a real and substantial risk” to her life. Mr Varadkar said: “The only thing that would be a grey area is if there’s a genuine threat or risk to the life of the mother.”
But he said he wouldn’t be in favour of legalising abortions for victims of rape: “I wouldn’t be in favour of it in that case, and, you know, first of all, it isn’t the child’s fault that they’re the child of rape.”
“How would that work practically? Would someone have to prove that they’ve been raped? I think where that’s been brought in in countries it has more or less led to abortion on demand,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Independent magazine. “You can say the same thing about disabled children. You know, some people would make that argument in favour of abortion. It’s not their fault they’re disabled. I wouldn’t be in favour of it in those circumstances either.”
It’s estimated that around 5,000 women travel from Ireland to Britain for abortions every year, but Mr Varadkar said there was no double standards on the issue. “People travel overseas to do things overseas that aren’t legal in Ireland all the time. You know, are we going to stop people going to Las Vegas? Are we going to stop people going to Amsterdam? There are things that are illegal in Ireland and we don’t prevent people from travelling overseas to avail of them.”
The 31-year-old said it was “very unfair” that he was accused of sexism in the Dáil because of the way he attacked Ms Coughlan when she was Minister for Enterprise.
“If anything I went easier on her because she was a woman,” he said. “She’s accused everyone of sexism. Nobody that I know would ever say that I’m sexist. Most people would accept it was the last line of defence for Mary Coughlan.”
Doctors for Choice: A founder member of the Doctors for Choice group has said she believes another referendum is inevitable to allow even a limited form of abortion in Ireland.
Dr Mary Favier told a public meeting in Cobh, Co Cork, that the expert group’s report on abortion was to be welcomed.
However, Dr Favier pointed out that the expert group looked at only a very narrow section of the current law and she believed a referendum to change the Constitution was necessary.
“I think inevitably we are going to have to look at repealing the 1983 amendment, which was always a very faulty insertion into the Irish Constitution,” said Dr Favier.
“Until it is repealed, we will not be able to legislate in any circumstances to protect women who have been raped or who are pregnant as the result of incest,” she told Cork’s 96FM.
It is becoming more and more clear that to safe guard the health, life and equality of women in Ireland we need to remove the 8th amendment.
“We should not pretend that limited measures, ensure true equality for all members of this republic.” Alan Shatter’s speech in the Dáil on Claire Daly’s most recent bill to legislate for X.
Chants of “Repeal the 8th” rang out outside the Dáil last Wednesday as people gathered in the cold to listen to the debate, it rang out every time a politician said that hands were tied due to the constitution.
For the last few years I have steadfastly said we did not need another referendum on abortion in this country, that we as a nation twice have voted no to not legislating for the X case.
I was wrong, any legislation is subservient to the constitution and can not conflict with our Constitution, so yes we do need a referendum. One to repeal the 8th amendment.
Sean Kenny, Labour TD for Dublin North East.
Lisa Powell writes;
I re-e-mailed my TDs re: legislation this morning, this was one response:
You might be aware that Labour TDs including myself, did not support Clare Daly’s billon the X case last night. As your TD, I want to explain why I voted No.
In order to succeed in getting legislation for the X case, I, as a legislator, have to work with the reality of the political games that are being played in order to get X case legislation passed into law.
Fine Gael, Labour’s coalition partners would not support Clare Daly’s bill. I believe that Labour Ministers suggested to them that they should support it. But they did not wish to do so – they want to wait to debate the Expert Group Report which has been published recently. This is because Fine Gael and Labour agreed on the Expert Group process a year ago.
Fine Gael now want to see that through. It is clear on reading the Expert Group
report that the Expert Group believes legislation for the X case and regulations for doctors, is the way forward on this matter.
Fine Gael are a very conservative political party. They do not really want legislation. Labour will have to force them to support legislation.
It is very, very difficult getting them to move on this – but it is working previously, for example, Enda Kenny has said he will not be rushed. But earlier this week he said he would move swiftly.
The really conservative Fine Gael TDs and Ministers are now speaking out in the media about their opposition. They are doing that because they know that Labour is influencing Fine Gael and that they will have to support legislation. They are trying to re-assure their anti-choice voters.
All of that going on in Fine Gael is down to Labour Party TDs and Ministers pushing Fine Gael on this.
As part of that, if Labour, their coalition partner, were to antagonise Fine Gael by supporting Clare Daly’s Bill and breaking with the Expert Group route, Fine Gael will not trust Labour and then there never will be any legislation because Fine Gael will not support it.
I also would like you to consider the way in which Dáil seats are divided up in this Dáil. Each seat in the Dáil is worth one vote.
Labour have 37 seats in the Dáil.
Fine Gael have 74 seats in the Dáil.
Fianna Fáil have 19 seats.
Sinn Féin have 14 seats.
Independents have 20 seats.
ULA have 4 seats.
The Ceann Comhairle has one vote – this vote is cast only in the event
of a tie.
If Fine Gael seats (ie, votes) are left out of the equation, there are not enough TDs who will support legislating for the X case. A number of the FF and Independent TDs are very pro-life – some will vote against legislating and others will simply not show up to vote at all.
Just 27 votes supported Clare Daly’s Bill last night. Even if all the Labour TDs had supported it, it still would have failed to pass.
In other words, for X case legislation to be passed without question in the Dáil, Fine Gael AND Labour are needed to support X case legislation when it comes down to a vote on in the Dáil because they have the most seats, and therefore, the most votes.
Fine Gael control Dáil Éirean and Labour supporting legislation alone will not get that legislation voted through.
Fine Gael are required.Over the next couple of weeks, there will be a debate on the Expert Group report. After that, the Government will decide what steps to take. I
am confident that there will be legislation on the X case and that it will happen within the next two or three months.
Sean Kenny TD
28th November is the full moon and there will be a lunar eclipse, it will also be one month from when Savita Halappanavar died in hospital in Galway.
That same day a bill to legislate for the X Case is tabled to be debated and discussed. Claire Daly as part of the ULA is bringing the bill forward and it will do what is needed.
Unfortunately despite it being a good bill and legally sound it is most likely it will be voted down by the government parties.
Who will not want to legislate someone else’s bill, who want to drawn out the process and will stall and then grudgingly create their own bill months later.
The Labour party does want to legislate as soon as possible but they are tied in coalition with the very conservative Fine Gael and even if there was a free vote in the Dáil the bill can not pass with out Fine Gael votes to support it.
So they are playing party politics with women’s lives.
Reporter Oonagh Murphy reported on the excerpts of the report from the Expert group set up to review the X Case ruling.
It seems that the expert group reports back that the options are to put in place guidelines, legislation or regulations.
Guidelines, which can be put in place quickly can be easily amended but they would have no legal force behind them and would not meet the recommendations of the EU court of human rights.
Legislation would meet the recommendations of the EU courts of human rights, but it will mean time spent drawing them up, time spent debating for it to be passed. Legislation will take more time and has a lack of flexibility in the future as medical advances are made.
Regulations in conjunction with legislation may offer flexibility but will have to be backed with legislation which will allow the regulations to be changed as needed.
It was also reported that the X Case only deals with the risk to the life of the woman rather then the risk to health and as a result cases like those of Savita may not be covered by anything which the government put in place.
Tuesday the 27th of November has been given for the publication of the report.