Irish lawmakers voted Tuesday to move forward with a radical pro-abortion bill that would force taxpayers to pay for abortions and Catholic hospitals to do them.
The Dáil voted 102 to 12 to move the bill to the Oireachtas Health Committee for debate and possible amendments, RTE reports. Seven TDs abstained.
Ireland voted to repeal its Eighth Amendment in May, stripping away protections for unborn babies from the Irish Constitution. Now, government leaders are pushing a pro-abortion bill that would legalize abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to six months in a wide variety of circumstances. It would force taxpayers to pay for abortions and force Catholic hospitals to provide them. The bill also strictly limits conscience protections for medical professionals.
The pro-life campaign Love Both expressed disappointment at the vote, but promised to keep fighting for the unborn.
“As the Second Stage of the abortion Bill passed by a large majority in Dáil today, let’s remember the many lives saved by the 8th Amendment over the past number of decades. Whatever happens, the pro-life movement will not go away,” the campaign wrote online.
Pro-abortion leaders, including Health Minister Simon Harris, have been trying to ram through the pro-abortion bill. According to RTE:
The Minister for Health wrote to its chairperson, Dr Michael Harty, last week to request that committee stage take place next week during the Dáil’s October recess.
Mr Harty will ask the committee for views tomorrow.
However one its members, Labour’s Alan Kelly who is favour of the legislation, has expressed concern over the window of consideration between the time amendments can be tabled – which is this Friday – and their examination next week.
A spokesperson for Fianna Fáil also said the party is conscious of the need to ensure that all TDs have an opportunity to inform themselves of the amendments to the bill and said the committee sitting next week makes that more difficult.
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Louth Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick told the Dundalk Democrat that government leaders are pushing them to pass the bill quickly before the Irish people learn just how extreme it is.
“The Government is clearly rushing it through because they are afraid voters will be appalled if they find out the full details of what is proposed in the small print,” Fitzpatrick said.
“Many decided to vote Yes last May because they were promised these restrictions, most of which are not now included. The regime being put in place is one of the most permissive abortion regimes anywhere in Europe,” he continued.
Fitzpatrick said the bill does not prohibit sex-selection abortions or abortions on unborn babies with non-fatal disabilities like Down syndrome. It also does not include any protections for babies born alive after botched abortions. He cited statistics from Canada and England where hundreds of babies have been born alive after botched abortions in the past decade.
“If we were serious about having respect for life, then surely, at the very least, the legislation could include an amendment requiring doctors to intervene and provide life-saving care to the baby in such circumstances,” Fitzpatrick said.
On Wednesday, the Sinn Féin party required its members to vote pro-abortion, instead of their conscience on the legislation. Pro-life Sinn Féin TD Paeder Toibin voted against the bill, and will face disciplinary action as a result, The Journal reports.
Toibin said he could not support a bill that legalizes the destruction of a living human being’s life. He said he hopes to introduce an amendment to protect medical professionals from being forced to participate in abortions.
“I will seek to stop Simon Harris forcing doctors and other medical professionals to provide or arrange abortions,” he said.
Sinn Féin party leader Mary Lou McDonald previously said her party’s TDs must separate their “private conscious views” from their “public function and public role,” or face possible suspension.
“Sinn Féin policy is crystal clear,” McDonald said. “There isn’t an a la carte position. We do have people in the party that have a different view, and they articulate that different view. What will not happen on my watch is any ambiguity in terms of the absolute requirement to vote in the Dáil or Seanad chamber in accordance with Sinn Féin policy.”