Monday, December 31, 2012

Oireachtas hearings on abortion to be held in January

The Irish Government shortly before Christmas outlined plans to legislate and regulate for abortion in cases where there is a threat to the life of the mother in accordance with the highly controversial “X Case” – including the threat of suicide.
Health Minister James Reilly, in his statement on the Government proposals told the Dail that parliamentary hearings on the issue would begin in January and that lawmakers would receive a bill by Easter with the expectation that they would vote on it by the summer.
The Irish Independent reported on Saturday December 29th that due to the huge interest in the holding of such hearings the proposal to use one of the committee rooms had to be reconsidered and that the Seanad (Senate) chamber would be used instead

The Independent reported as follows
THE Oireachtas hearings on abortion have been moved to the Seanad chamber because of the huge interest in the contentious issue.

The Oireachtas Health Committee starts its abortion hearings next month, and it will be moved from the normal committee rooms of Leinster House. As many as 40 members of the Oireachtas could turn up to the hearings. Although the committee's membership is restricted to 15 TDs and six senators, any Oireachtas member is entitled to turn up and question witnesses.

The hearings will be broadcast live on the internet and on the Oireachtas TV station on the UPC cable network.


Fine Gael senator Paul Bradford first raised the possibility of using the Seanad earlier this month, and committee chairman Jerry Buttimer confirmed that the initial three hearings, and possibly more, will be held in the Upper House.

"We'll see how it goes for the first three days before we decide if we need it for longer," Mr Buttimer, a TD for Cork South-Central, said.

Before Christmas, the Government outlined plans to legislate and regulate for abortion in cases where there is a threat to the life of the mother – including the highly contentious issue of the threat of suicide.

The first two days will be given over to witnesses from medical and legal professions, with the final day reserved for the churches and advocacy groups.
This will be the first time that Irish lawmakers have ever voted on the abortion issue, which is arguably the most divisive issue of all. Ireland has one of the best records on a global basis for the care of mother's and their unborn babies and maternal mortality levels here are amongst the lowest in the world, many times lower than either the UK and the US. The killing of unborn babies can never be justified for any reason but to do so on the pretence that it is necessary to save the life of a mother is particularly reprehensible.