Opposition’s abortion Bill ‘goes miles beyond what people voted for’ — Donnelly

An Opposition Bill calling for changes to the State’s abortion laws “goes miles beyond what people voted for,” Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said.

Mr Donnelly was one of a number of Government members who abstained from a vote on the second stage of the People Before Profit Bill in the Dáil on Wednesday.

When asked why he had abstained from the vote, Mr Donnelly told Newstalk Breakfast the Bill did not respect the referendum vote of the people on the Eighth Amendment.

“I actually looked at the Bill in great detail. The Bill goes miles beyond what people voted for in repealing the Eighth. I made this point to Deputy [Bríd] Smith (PBP) and to others who were supporting the Bill during the second stage debate.


“I said to them, you are invoking the will of the people – you are invoking Repeal, you are invoking the referendum. Well, I campaigned very hard for Repeal, but your bill does not respect that vote at all because it goes way beyond that vote.

“I said you know, you are invoking the report by Marie O’Shea, but your campaign goes miles beyond what Marie O’Shea said.”

“I said as soon as the report was published, and I referred it to the health committee, that I was going to keep my own views to myself to give the health committee space to consider the report, and they can come back to me and come back to Government. Abstaining was simply a manifestation of that.

“It is me who will have to bring through any new legislation and so I said right at the start I was going to wait, I was going to respect the process and give the Health Committee the space that they need,” the Minister said.

Mr Donnelly added he did not want to be in a position where people could accuse him of “trying to influence the discussion of the health committee one way or the other”.

Prior to Wednesday’s Dáil vote on the Bill, Mr Donnelly lost a motion seeking to delay its reading by 74 votes to 61 with three abstentions after the Coalition parities allowed a free vote.

The subsequent vote on the People Before Profit Bill then passed by 67 votes to 64 with eight abstentions.