Plans by Minister for Health James Reilly to advise Cabinet this week on the scope of proposed abortion legislation have been swept off course amid resistance on the Labour side of the Government to elements of his plan.
Although Dr Reilly said on Thursday that a memo would
go to Cabinet this week, two Government sources said the document was
unlikely to be be brought to Cabinet at its weekly meeting tomorrow.
argument was made yesterday that more time would be required to digest
the 1,000-page report on the issue from the Oireachtas health committee.
spite of the complexity of the proposed legislation and political
sensitivity over its contents in both Government parties, Dr Reilly set
out an ambitious timetable last week in which he expressed the hope that
the law could be enacted by summer.
Only days later, any slowdown
in bringing the memorandum to Cabinet would be a clear illustration of
the difficulties the Government faces when trying to align the Fine Gael
position with that of Labour.
The main point of contention is the
inclusion of the risk of suicide as a legal ground for abortion, as
provided for in the Supreme Court ruling on the X case.
expected delay comes amid concern in Labour that Dr Reilly’s proposal to
have the threat to the life of a mother, in light of a risk of suicide,
examined by up to five doctors when deciding whether abortion should be
“We wouldn’t see that as something that would be
practical,” said a source on the Labour flank of the Coalition. Labour
is believed to favour a middle ground in which a patient would be
examined by three doctors.
There was no comment on the timing of the proposed memorandum or anything in it from Dr Reilly’s spokesman.