BISHOP of Limerick Brendan Leahy has piled the pressure on local TDs to defy the government and come out against the abortion bill in the final vote this Wednesday.
Speaking ahead of a pro-life prayer vigil at St John’s Cathedral on the eve of the Dail vote, Bishop Leahy said the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill - allowing for doctors to carry out an abortion where the life of the mother is at risk - would “fundamentally change Irish law in a way that it will no longer treat the life of the unborn as sacrosanct”.
Despite indicating in May that he was disposed to supporting the bill, Fianna Fail’s Deputy Willie O’Dea was the only TD in Limerick city and county who voted against the bill at the first stage.
Denying he had performed a u-turn on the matter, Deputy O’Dea said the wording was not “watertight” enough to satisfy him that it wouldn’t lead to a more liberal abortion regime.
But other Limerick TDs who also identify themselves as pro-life, including Deputy O’Dea’s colleague Niall Collins and Fine Gael’s Kieran O’Donnell, Dan Neville, and Pat O’Donovan were satisfied to support the bill at the first stage, the latter saying there were enough “restrictions” built into the legislation.
“And it’s also a case of do I recognise the legitimacy of the Supreme Court (X case judgement), and do I recognise the votes of two successive referendums? Some people like to think that Supreme Court judgment didn’t take place. It did, and that’s the reality,” said Deputy O’Donovan.
Although relatively new in the job, Bishop Leahy has been in the vanguard of the Catholic hierarchy’s opposition to the bill in recent weeks.
“As Minister Lucinda Creighton has pointed out, the bill could enshrine in Irish law, for the first time ever, and in contravention of express constitutional obligations, a hierarchy of human being in this State, one which says that we can select who deserves to live and who does not,” the bishop said.