The Irish Independent reports that some ministers and TDs are speculating that the government will try to introduce abortion without trying to push legislation through the Dáil, where it would meet strong opposition. They suggest that instead of legislation, the government will simply make regulations setting out in what circumstances abortions are to be allowed.
Many Fine Gael TDs have threatened to vote against any abortion legislation—in line with a pre-election promise by their party.
Fine Gael backbenchers believe that, following a heated discussion at a recent parliamentary party meeting, the Health Minister realises the depth of opposition to abortion among his party colleagues. It is now clear that he cannot bring forward legislation as it would cause too much division.
The Independent’s political correspondent Fionnan Sheahan quotes an anonymous minister referring contemptuously to “the God squad in the Fine Gael party” getting upset. “It’ll be regulation,” the minister said.
All indications are that opposition within Fine Gael to the introduction of abortion is solidifying. “If you speak to any of the Fine Gael parliamentary party, the vast majority would be all singing off the same hymn sheet,” another TD said.
“You only legislate for things when necessary. The nub of it is there is no compulsion to legislate on the basis of a judgement from the European Court of Human Rights,” according to an unnamed veteran TD.
F&L Comment: It would be a grave mistake for the government to think that it can get around the growing opposition to abortion legislation by trying to circumvent the Dáil. Fine Gael’s pre-election commitment stated that the party opposed “the legalisation of abortion”. Legalising abortion by regulation rather than legislation would be no less a betrayal of those who voted for Fine Gael on the strength of that commitment. The vast majority of the party’s elected representatives know this, and it is about time the party’s leadership recognised it too.
Irish Independent. July 30.
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