Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has expressed concern that tomorrow’s Dáil motion on the need to legislate for abortion services may be motivated more by party political considerations than the very important and sensitive issues involved.

Deputy Kelleher commented, “In the wake of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar and the grief and anger it has generated around the country, the contributions of most political representatives have been characterised by a level of respect and sensitivity.  This is in marked contrast to much of the debate on the issue of abortion services that we have seen in the past.

“As a parliament and as a country we owe it to all those touched by abortion, and indeed to the memory of Savita, to conduct the conversation that we must now have with that same respect and sensitivity.

“I would have serious concerns about the decision of Sinn Féin to force a parliamentary vote on the subject just one week before a non-partisan expert report is due to be published.   If this is about political point scoring, it does a great disservice to those genuine people on all sides of this debate who would like to see legislators make well informed decisions in the best public interest.

“When you look to the situation in Northern Ireland, it is hard to escape the conclusion that this motion is more about politics-as-usual and causing difficulties for the Government parties.  There, as here, a leading obstetrician has said that the law on abortion needs clarity and that politicians need to act to give that clarity.  Professor Jim Dornan, who sits on the Global Health Board of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, was speaking this week following Savita’s death.

“Sinn Féin has been in Government in Northern Ireland since 1998.  In those 14 years, I can find no evidence of them having tabled a single motion in the Assembly calling for greater legal clarity on access to abortion services in Northern Ireland.

“Policymakers have the opportunity to defy expectations and mark this debate as different to all that have come before.  It is in that spirit that Fianna Fáil will be tabling amendments to the Sinn Féin motion and doing what we can to stop the debate on abortion in 2012 from descending into the acrimony that we have seen so often before.”