Debate on amendments to the controversial Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill is to continue in the Dáil today, following a marathon sitting yesterday that lasted until 5am.
During the debate, former Fine Gael Deputy Brian Walsh, who last week lost the party whip after voting against the legislation, supported an amendment unsuccessfully proposed by Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín to remove the section of the bill permitting abortion where there is a “real and substantial risk of loss of the woman’s life by way of suicide”.
The Galway West Deputy previously indicated that he supports the “vast majority” of the legislation and welcomes the “clarity that it gives medical practitioners, obstetricians, consultants, in terms of when they can act and when they can’t act to save the life of the mother”.
However he has said he cannot support Section 9, which deals with suicide, and that “overwhelming” medical evidence presented at Oireachtas hearings, particularly by psychiatrists, suggested that termination was not the appropriate treatment for someone presenting with suicide ideation or intent. He has also raised concerns about the lack of time limits on terminations contained in the legislation.
Over 100 out of a total of 165 amendments to the bill have yet to be tabled in the Dáil and the debate is expected to resume around 4pm today before proceeding to the Seanad later this week, where Fine Gael Senator Fidelma Healy Eames is also expected to vote against the Government and lose the Fine Gael party whip as a result.