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Kenny rejects call for free vote on abortion legislation

By   /   June 8, 2013  /   No Comments


Taoiseach says Coalition has ‘duty to legislate’  on the matter

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has rejected the call made by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin that TDs should be allowed a free vote on abortion legislation, saying that governments ‘are elected to govern’.

Mr Kenny, speaking in London after he spoke at a global hunger summit, said the Fine Gael/Labour coalition has ‘a duty to legislate’ to deal with the need to give doctors and women legal certainty.

“This is about saving lives, it is strictly within the Constitution, strictly within the requirement of what we have to do with the law,” Mr Kenny told reporters at the Nutrition for Growth conference.

“There is nothing now being proposed here, other than safer, clearer certainties with regard to saving lives. I have made it clear that the government parties will not be having a free vote,” he said.

Archbishop Martin called for a free vote yesterday, saying politicians should not ‘be forced to vote against their conscience’, or face disciplinary action if they did so.

However, Mr Kenny said: “Governments are elected to govern and the mandate given to this government was very strong indeed. This matter has been around for a very long time and it has not been dealt with.

“It will be dealt now. It will be dealt with pragmatically, it will be dealt with sensibly, safely and is about giving clarity, legal certainty and an understanding particularly to the women in respect of their constitutional rights. This is about saving lives, not ending them against a person who exercises their right of conscience,” he declared.

However, Archbishop Martin appeared to shy away from talk of excommunicating politicians who vote in favour on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

Asked about calls made by US-based Catholic cardinals and archbishops, Dr Martin said: “If you look at the numbers of people who have been formally excommunicated in the US, it is minimal.”

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