by Alan Jacques
LIMERICK TD Willie O’Dea has come out in favour of the existing legislation in relation to abortion after being challenged to clarify his position over whether the law should be changed to allow for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.
The opposition spokesman on Social Protection was one of four Fianna Fáil deputies who failed to respond to a question on changes to abortion laws in a survey in last weekend’s Irish Independent.
The survey asked: “Do you believe the law should be changed to allow for abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormality?”
Deputy O’Dea, along with Timmy Dooley, Colm Keaveney and party leader Michael Martin, failed to respond to the question.
In a statement this week, Social Democrats General Election candidate for Limerick City, Sarah Jane Hennelly called on the Limerick City TD to clarify his position.
“This is a tragic issue that affects a large number of women and families in Ireland, including many from Deputy O’Dea’s constituency. Twelve women a day travel to the UK from Ireland for an abortion. It is simply not acceptable to try and pretend this is not an issue that affects people in Limerick,” Ms Hennelly said.
However when he was contacted by the Limerick Post, Deputy O’Dea explained, “The only reason I didn’t respond to the Irish Independent on the matter was because I didn’t get their message in time. My opinion on the matter is that I support and stand by the Eight Amendment of the Constitution.”
For her part, Ms Hennelly said she believes the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution must be repealed to respect and protect the lives, health and choices of women living in Ireland.
“It is an act of moral cowardice to say to a woman – who has just been given the worst news of her life – that due to political expedience you are unable or unwilling to clearly state your position on her rights. This is not a pro-life or pro-choice issue. It is a human rights imperative.”