Kelly says government will act following Savita Halappanavar death

Minister of State Alan Kelly has said that the “appalling tragedy of Savita Halappanavar’s death has without doubt highlighted the need to deal with the legacy of the X case”

Minister of State Alan Kelly has said that the “appalling tragedy of Savita Halappanavar’s death has without doubt highlighted the need to deal with the legacy of the X case”

The Tipperary TD said he had never before received so many letters, emails and telephone calls on any one issue.

“Ordinary people across Tipperary are appalled that this could happen in 2012. While we still don’t know the exact details of Savita’s case and an enquiry will be conducted, it has once again become starkly obvious that there is no clear guidance in this area following on from the decisions of the Irish Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice”.

Minister Kelly continued - “Last November this Government set up an Expert Group to deal with this issue. The group comprised of experts in the fields of obstetrics, general practice, law, public policy and professional regulation. I am glad that this group have completed their work and reported to the Minister for Health, James Reilly. The Minister will present this report to cabinet and publish it this week and as he has said in the Dail, this Government will not be the 7th Government to ignore this issue and put women’s lives at risk. The options put forward by this group must be studied in full but acted upon quickly.

“This is a time for the Government of which I am a part of to show leadership on a very difficult and sensitive issue. The discussion will become very emotive and it needs to be carried out in a dignified and respectful way but doing nothing is simply not an option in this case.

“Personally I don’t fit well with extreme pronouncements of the terms ‘Pro Choice’ or ‘Pro Life’. I think everyone should be prolife in the real sense of the phrase, pro mothers and pro children. I respect everyone who holds views on both sides of the debate but I believe this issue is far more complex and beyond such pigeon holing as some would like to have it. It simply is not black or white. There is a middle ground, a compassionate approach.

“Essentially, this is about medical professionals knowing clearly where the lines of their responsibilities and duties lie. After all, these medical professionals are the ones who are left with real judgement calls in real life scenarios in hospitals. It is not about bringing abortion on demand into this country. The people don’t support this and neither do I. Anyone who says it is a slippery slope towards such a scenario is wrong.

“As a Government Minister and legislator I have listened deeply and intensely to the people of Tipperary and I believe the people understand this complexity and now want to see the medical profession empowered to act and terminate a pregnancy where a woman’s life is at risk. That’s why I favour legislating for the X case. It will probably need further Ministerial regulation as well to ensure mothers who find themselves in a life threatening position are protected and that the medical professionals who are dealing with such difficult situations are also legally protected. This is the middle ground, compassionate approach I favour.

“We simply can’t stand still as a society anymore. The courts have spoken on this. The people have spoken. A young woman has now died tragically. It’s time for us in Government to stop talking and act. It’s time for this country to wake up and act. Whether this means legislation with or without regulations let’s do it quickly, honestly and effectively. Society demands it.

“It’s time for legislators to show leadership, listen to their constituents and state their position on this issue. I’ve done it. I feel others should do so clearly as well”.