After 20 years of administrations ducking the issue, the Coalition said it would bring in a mixture of legislation and regulation to legalise abortion where there was a substantial risk to the life of the mother — including suicide.
However, the Government statement was vague on matters such as the definition of suicide risk, as many Fine Gael TDs are concerned about the issue.
Fine Gael backbenchers expressed anger that Labour TDs had claimed the Cabinet move as a “victory” for their party. Health Minister James Reilly said he was “looking for a victory for the women of Ireland”.
Dr Reilly said a balance had to be struck on suicide risk, stating:
“It is very clear the Supreme Court case has covered suicide as being a risk here.” However, he said, a form of words must be found so the issue “is not abused as it has been perceived to be in some other jurisdictions”.
He said suicide risk would “absolutely” be among the grounds for termination, but said the matter should be set out in a way so it would not be “abused”.
Last night, the country’s four archbishops issued a statement saying “what is being proposed… can never be morally justified in any circumstances”.