With the debate over the potential expansion of abortion laws in Ireland still brewing, several Fine Gael TDs have made it clear that they will not be supporting the liberalization of the existing legislation.
The Irish Times spoke with some of the TDs who are against the liberalization of the existing abortion laws. In addition, they are demanding that the findings of the expert group on abortion, expected out in September, be discussed with them before it is brought to Cabinet.
Concerns have been brewing within Fine Gael during the past weeks that the Cabinet would make a decision on the report of the expert panel, which is being chaired by High Court judge Sean Ryan, and present it to Fine Gael as a “done deal.”
Two of Fine Gael’s TDs have insisted that they will not vote in favor of the liberalization of the abortion laws in Ireland should it head to the Dail, even if the Government “whip” is being cracked.
“I firmly believe that abortion will present a greater challenge than austerity for this Government,” said one TD to The Irish Times.
“Fine Gael and Labour have clearly diverging views on this,” the same TD added. “We made it clear that for Fine Gael this is a red-line issue. We must make sure that Fine Gael Ministers in Cabinet are fully aware of the strong views of Senators and TDs on the matter.”
Minister for Health James Reilly reportedly made a “cast-iron agreement” that the report from the expert panel regarding abortion will be brought to Fine Gael for consideration before going to the Cabinet, said one TD.
Dr. Reilly said that six successive governments had shirked their responsibility to provide legislation that would give effect to the ruling in the European Court of Human Rights on the now famous “X” case.
He clarified that he did not intend for a commitment to legislation, rather a commitment to discussion on the issue.
Charlie Flanagan, Laois TD and party chairman, added that: “The Fine Gael party will have every opportunity to discuss the abortion issue and the report of the expert group before any Government decision is made.”