Bid to reach abor­tion de­ci­sion

Irish Examiner - - News - Juno McEn­roe

The Cabi­net next week will try to reach a col­lec­tive de­ci­sion on whether or not abor­tion should be al­lowed un­re­stricted up to 12 weeks for preg­nan­cies.

While a num­ber of min­is­ters have yet to de­clare their po­si­tion on the rec­om­men­da­tions to lib­er­alise the abor­tion laws, some Cabi­net mem­bers be­lieve a ma­jor­ity will sup­port changes.

Next Tues­day’s meet­ing is ex­pected to pick up the dis­cus­sion and de­bate among min­is­ters on the abor­tion rec­om­men­da­tions. There is a strong ex­pec­ta­tion that, in the days fol­low­ing the meet­ing, Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar will take a po­si­tion on the re­port’s rec­om­men­da­tions. But he may not make it know pub­licly for a week or two, gov­ern­ment sources say.

At least seven Cabi­net mem­bers have pub­licly said they sup­port re­peal of the Eighth Amend­ment. Some have said they favour al­low­ing un­re­stricted abor­tions in line with com­mit­tee rec­om­men­da­tions — up to 12 weeks.

A Cabi­net source said: “It’s [the meet­ing] about try­ing to get a col­lec­tive de­ci­sion. The ma­jor­ity [of min­is­ters] will sup­port the com­mit­tee.”

How­ever, Mr Varad­kar has said there are con­cerns about the ex­tent of the Oireach­tas com­mit­tee rec­om­men­da­tions which went fur­ther than many peo­ple and politi­cians ex­pected.

Three op­tions were laid out to the Cabi­net last week over its re­sponse to the re­port rec­om­men­da­tions and plans for a ref­er­en­dum later this year. They in­cluded “do­ing noth­ing”, agree­ing to the rec­om­men­da­tions, or of­fer their own so­lu­tion on ad­dress­ing con­cerns about the Eighth Amend­ment.

Many min­is­ters and TDs are ner­vous about pub­licly ex­press­ing an opin­ion, or stat­ing, their po­si­tion on the is­sues. It is un­clear if any fur­ther op­tions have been con­sid­ered by the Depart­ment of Health or the Taoiseach, be­yond the rec­om­men­da­tions made by the Oireach­tas com­mit­tee.

A Gov­ern­ment spokes­woman said it was “un­likely” other op­tions would be con­sid­ered and did not dis­miss a sug­ges­tion that the 12-week rule was the “only show in town”.

Other par­ties are also ex­pected to have their own meet­ings and dis­cus­sion on the re­port and ref­er­en­dum, when the Dáil re­sumes next week, in­clud­ing Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, and Labour.

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