Fianna Fáil and Abortion May 4, 2013Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Fianna Fáil, Irish Politics.
How unfortunate to watch Fianna Fáil down yet another hole of their own making. Months on from Savita and draft legislation dominating the week still no white smoke. That widely perceived weakness of leader Micheál Martin has returned and while even most Fine Gael backbenchers prepare to endure one side or the other it’s difficult to see anything but Soldiers of Dithering. Curious to see the responsible opposition in knots and against everything crew onside isn’t it…
Noel Whelan today outlines part of their dilemma
Some argue that there is political advantage for Fianna Fáil in opposing the Bill because it would position it to benefit from anti-abortion voters disenchanted with Fine Gael for reneging on its commitments before the last election not to legislate for the X case.
On the other hand, if it opposes this legislation Fianna Fáil risks alienating the mainstream middle ground who now support or are at least reconciled to the reality that legislating for the X case, including the risk of suicide, is now necessary. Positioning itself against that trend is likely to cost Fianna Fáil more than any gains from those sectors of the electorate who oppose this Bill.
Indeed FF already closely wedded to the various anti-abortion tendencies are in the best position to pick up stray votes from FG and SF though outlier of Dáil Éireann is particularly risky business for a Party with no seat in the Capital.
The well worn theme of grassroots continue to dominate internal party re
branding building and last Sunday the same membership took the kind of absolutist position alien to FF style pragmatism.
That this Ard Fheis reaffirms Fianna Fáil’s position as a pro-life party
That this Ard Fheis reaffirms that Fianna Fáil is a pro-life party which will oppose any legislation
which has the potential to be significantly expanded beyond the limited circumstances where an
intervention is required to protect mothers.
That this Ard Fheis proposes that this Party opposes the introduction of any legislation which
introduces the “risk of suicide” as a threat to life of the mother and legitimises abortion in Ireland.
Nice scare quotes on that last one.
All unanimously approved as reported with much fever on twitter & Irish Times
Resolutions confirming Fianna Fáil’s status as a “pro-life” party had overwhelming support at the party’s ardfheis.
During a debate on health issues just one delegate spoke against the motions and only a handful of delegates voted against them.
Earlier party leader Micheál Martin said he did not believe there should be another referendum on the issue. He told reporters the party would listen to the debate which would inform its policy decisions on the issue.
Taking some highlights from Martin’s opening address two days previous
put power directly into the hands of our active members
all voting this weekend will be on the principle of one member, one vote
hand over to members the final say
proposals will be brought to the members for direct consultation
core principle of empowering its members
reinvigorated membership and a united party
I want to thank our members for everything you are doing to work to rebuild the bond of trust
Motions & conferences are of course regularly swept under the rug of realpolitik but the message on Sunday was clear and the crunch more imminent then issues usually long-fingered to a Central Council for deflation.
The expectations of Martin’s membership would want to go beyond informing policy if words like above and fabled renewal mean anything more then a Party continuing to cod themselves.
The softening up began on Wednesday seeing Martin ‘hint’ at support highlighting the draft’s similarities to his own 2002 effort. The following marathon meeting ended in stalemate with most commentators putting the Party spilt equally down the middle. One vote could decide according to some so now it’s twenty-one years and ‘several weeks’ before any decision.
Back to Noel Whelan today and a free vote on abortion Bill would be healthy precedent for democracy. Given Fianna Fáil were power for sixteen of those twenty-one the democracy horse has long bolted and we are, to be honest, in the last debate where politicians are likely to grow up.
Is it too late for Enda to back down on a free vote? Unlikely for a handful of his own TDs. Probably less to provide cover for Micheál Martin. Still bound to be a long bank holiday weekend with plenty of refuelling in Castlebar on route to Knock.
Also today we see Cedar lounge fan Breda O’Brien weep for (the vanity of) Ireland while raising unintended consequences
The usual Irish answer of, “Ah, sure, it will never happen,” is grotesquely inadequate and dangerous.
Worth returning to the Attorney General in 1983
the wording is ambiguous and unsatisfactory. It will lead inevitably to confusion and uncertainty, not merely amongst the medical profession, to whom it has of course particular relevance, but also amongst lawyers, and more specifically the judges who will have to interpret it. Far from providing the protection and certainty which is sought by many of those who have advocated its adoption it will have a contrary effect. In particular it is not clear as to what life is being protected; as to whether “the unborn” is protected from the moment of fertilisation, or alternatively is left unprotected until an independently viable human being exists at 25 to 28 weeks.
Further, having regard to the equal rights of the unborn and the mother, a doctor faced with the dilemma of saving the life of the mother, knowing that to do so will terminate the life of “the unborn” will be compelled by the wording to conclude that he can do nothing. Whatever his intention, he will have to show equal regard for both lives and his predominant intent will not be a factor. In these circumstances I cannot approve of the wording proposed.
How much of that crushingly jumps out now before we even get to architects who so sure of themselves scoffed publicly at the idea the Amendment would be used to prevent a women or child from travelling.