Abortion Committee to Include Prominent Pro-Abortion TDs
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have begun the process of nominating TDs for the Oireachtas committee that will recommend changes to Ireland's abortion laws. The committee is likely to include the most outspokenly pro-abortion members of each political party.
Fine Gael’s nominees are set to include Kate O’Connell a consistent opponent of the 8th Amendment. Fianna Fáil’s nominees will include the strongly pro-abortion Lisa Chambers, and the party’s health spokesman Billy Kelleher who was one of the minority of Fianna Fáil TDs who supported the 2013 abortion legislation. The smaller left-wing parties will also nominate pro-abortion members.
The committee will take up the recommendations made by the Citizens’ Assembly, which will hold its final discussion on the 8th Amendment this weekend. Miss Justice Mary Laffoy is expected to deliver the Assembly’s report by the end of June.
The formation of the committee is expected to be a tricky task for Fine Gael which will have a free vote on the issue when it comes before the Dáil. In recent days Government chief whip Regina Doherty emailed Fine Gael TDs and Senators seeking expressions of interest from politicians who want to be on the committee.
It is understood that Dublin Bay South TD Kate O'Connell will seek a spot on the new committee. Last year she broke down in tears as she told a Dáil debate of how she and her husband were told their son had a “profound defect” during a scan. The first-time TD said she delivered a child that “had almost the entirety of his organs outside his body”, who is miraculously alive today, aged five. She advocated that abortion should be legal in such circumstances.
Fianna Fáil has selected its health spokesman Billy Kelleher to be on the committee, along with TDs Lisa Chambers, Anne Rabbitte and James Browne. A spokesperson said it was still awaiting final numbers on the make-up of the committee before nominating any Senators.
The Oireachtas committee is expected to have up to 20 members, with a minimum of eight present at all times.
Irish Independent. April 15.