FIANNA Fail deputy Niall Collins, who was the only Limerick TD to vote in favour of abortion in limited circumstances this week, said there is no reason a referendum cannot be held on the contentious subject this summer.
Independent TD Clare Daly’s Bill allowing for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality was defeated by 104 votes to 20, with Sinn Féin’s abstention, this Tuesday night. Speaking to the Limerick Leader after the vote, Deputy Collins, one of only three Fianna Fail TDs to vote in favour of this legislation, said abortion is an “extremely sensitive issue, which impacts hugely on women.
“We’re the first and only political party to allow our members a free vote on freedom of conscience. I have asked myself if my wife or daughter were to be in that situation I would like them to have it done at home rather than abroad. I fully respect everyone’s views in relation to it. But I think we as a society need to face up to it.”
Inspite of his vote in favour, the father of two said he regards himself as “pro-life” and is “not in favour of opening the floodgates on abortion. I don’t think this Bill would have represented the thin end of the wedge for abortion in Ireland,” he added.
With the upcoming referendum on marriage equality in May, he said there is no reason another referendum could not be run alongside it. “The debate around it [the bill] was whether it would be Constitutional or not, and depending on which legal advisor you speak to, you’ll get a different opinion. The Bill could have passed and go on to committee to tease out any Constitutional issues, and make amendments there.”
Ms Daly said parents faced with the unenviable choice to end a pregnancy, if the foetus couldn’t survive, should have the procedure performed at home, rather than condemning them “to a lonely journey, most likely to Liverpool, surrounded by holidaymakers and business people, while the bottom falls out of their world.”