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07th Jul 2016

#repealthe8th campaigners slam “out of touch” government as “Mick’s Bill” is defeated in the Dáil

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Mick Wallace’s bill on Fatal Foetal Abnormality was defeated in the Dáil today.

The Bill was defeated by a margin of 95 votes to 45 votes.

The aim of the bill was to amend the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act to allow for abortions in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities.

Fatal foetal abnormality is defined as “a medical condition suffered by the foetus such that is it incompatible with life outside the womb”.

Currently, if a pregnant woman gets this diagnosis, she must either carry to full term or go abroad and seek a termination.

The bill sought to allow for abortions in the specific instance that life was impossible outside of the womb and would’ve been provided by two qualified medical professionals.

Wallace went on Twitter earlier today to vent his frustration at the majority of politicians who he believes are “totally out of touch with reality”.

For those who are curious, here’s a handy table showing how each TD voted in relation to the bill.

Abortion doc

image via Twitter

Somewhat surprisingly, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, who is known far and wide to be a feminist and staunch supporter of women’s rights, voted against the bill.

https://twitter.com/taisling/status/751032618758668289

We contacted Minister Zappone about her vote, and she told us:

“I am in agreement with Doctor’s for Choice letter and I note that they call for a repeal, and then a change of our legislation, with no comment on the bill before the House.

“I believe that the process of an Assembly, akin to the Constitutional Convention, is the best and swiftest route to bring about significant cultural and legal change on this issue. I believe that this path, and all the complimentary advocacy and conversational actions, will enable those who are undecided to come with us.  I root much of this discernment in my personal and lengthy experience of change regarding marriage equality.”

This is what The Abortion Rights Campaign had this to say on the matter:

“When TDs sign up to be part of government, they agree to abide by the programme of government, this is why Labour voted down the same type bill last year despite repeatedly saying that they are for increased abortion rights. While a political party that has a conservative view on abortion is the majority of any government, change will be slow, unless we, the people, demand it.

“When Katherine Zappone became part of the government she had to agree to certain compromises. We can only hope that they are ones she as a feminist can live with and that she can work to deliver a referendum to #repealthe8th within the government structure.”

The general reaction online is that the government “is out of touch”.

https://twitter.com/eilisssssss/status/751051808974442496

https://twitter.com/Dizzydub1/status/751046196542726144

Some people are pointing to the fact that the “winds are changing” considering that the exact same bill was voted down 104-20 only 18 months ago.

For its part, Fine Gael insisted that the bill was unconstitutional after consulting the Attorney General, who is the government’s legal council. However, they did not make this legal advice public. Fianna Fail allowed a free vote on the issue, and only five out of 44 TD’s voted in favour of the bill.

Sinn Fein voted in favour, as well as the People Before Profit Party and the Anti-Austerity Alliance. There were 17 abstentions on the bill in total.

It is believed that Enda Kenny reluctantly allowed Independent Ministers a free vote on the issue and 3 out 4 Independent Ministers, Shane Ross, Finian McGrath and John Halligan went against the advice of the   supported the Bill.

Mick’s bill was only one of two bills that are being presented to the Dail this year. The other one, entitled the Thirty-Fifth Amendment to the Constitution (Repeal of The Eight Amendment Bill) and is calling for a straight forward repealing of the eight amendment and this one is expected to be brought to the Dail as early as October 10.

If you are unfamiliar with this bill, click here and bring yourself up to speed.