Renegade Labour Party Chairman Colm Keaveney has this week voiced his opposition to the Government’s Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
The Galway East Deputy joins Galway West Fine Gael Deputy Brian Walsh in publicly stating that he cannot support the proposed bill as it currently stands, in particular raising concerns that it does not impose limits on when a termination may be carried out.
Speaking to the Galway Independent, Deputy Keaveney said he found the absence of time limits on the termination of a viable pregnancy in the recently published heads of the bill “disturbing”.
He added that both Minister James Reilly and Minister of State Alex White had confirmed that “in the event of a late term termination of pregnancy, not an abortion, a proposal would exist that babies would be prematurely delivered and left, potentially, with a wide ranging set of disabilities in the care of the State”.
While welcoming aspects of the bill that improve clarity around emergency treatments where the health of the mother is at risk, Deputy Keaveney also suggested that politicians who support the legislation as it stands would look back in two years and ask, “Did we just do that?”
“Because I suspect that the Supreme Court will have a view when the failure of the bill to adequately balance the rights between the life of the mother and the child are not fulfilled in the legislation,” he said, also raising fears that the proposed legislation could “normalise suicide as an option”.
Labour Youth has called on Deputy Keaveney to reconsider his position on the legislation, with group chairperson Aideen Carberry pointing out that Labour has “argued over many years that the X Case judgement needs to be legislated for, and this explicitly included the threat to the life of the woman by suicide”.
“Although he is under no obligation to vote in line with the Labour Party, having lost the whip, we urge [Mr] Keaveney to reconsider his position on this Bill, and represent the views of the party members who elected him as their party chairperson,” said Ms Carberry.
Deputy Keaveney has however stood by the concerns raised, adding, “I’m not influenced by pro-life or pro-choice, I’m influenced by the public interest. I don’t do slogan politics, this is a very serious situation that needs critical analysis by the public.”