Friday, January 04, 2013

Call for 'rational' abortion debate

Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton is pictured with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Taoiseach Enda Kenny (c) at a ceremony to mark Ireland's Presidency of the EU on Monday. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill.Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton has said she is not alone in receiving what she has called "vile" communications in the course of the ongoing abortion debate.

Ms Creighton said that being sent such letters and emails was part of “political life at the moment” and that she did not think she was unique in being targeted.

She told RTÉ Morning Ireland the abortion debate was “traditionally very emotive” in the State and that “in a sense we are all prepared and bracing ourselves for what is going to be a particularly sensitive debate” in the first part of this year.

The Government last month announced that it intended to respond to a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the abortion situation in Ireland in the coming months.

The Cabinet decided its preferred option was a combination of legislation and regulation that would give effect to the 1992 X case judgment. That judgment held that abortion was permissible where there was a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, as distinct to her health. Such a risk included the threat of suicide.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly has said the legislation will have to cover suicide as the judgment had been very clear on the issue.

However, up to 20 Fine Gael TDs, including Ms Creighton, have raised doubts in recent months about the inclusion in any legislation of the threat of suicide as a ground for abortion.

Ms Creighton said today she and her colleagues would like to see a rational debate on the subject that was “respectful of people’s opinions and people you may disagree with at times”.

She added: “That, I think, has been absent in the debate so far and I hope that will change as the weeks go by and we face into this very important decision-making process."

Ms Creighton’s Government colleague, Minster of State for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch, recently said some of the language used in the debate on abortion had been “disconcerting”.

Bishop of Kilmore Leo O’Reilly has described the Government's proposal to legislate as representing “the first step on the road to a culture of death”. He added that “once you say one human life can be directly destroyed, no human life is safe”.

In response, Ms Lynch said the church had a right and a duty to express its opinions on the subject but that some of the language that had been used was “unfortunate”. 

Moving to address the 1992 X case judgement was an “historic leap” for the Government, she added.

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