Go raibh maith agat, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. The debate we are having today, which I hope will continue for a number of days and will not be guillotined by the Government as was proposed earlier today, is an important one for our Constitution. Almost ten years after the country had to endure one of the most divisive referendum campaigns ever seen in the history of this State, this Government, through a combination of political cowardice and electoral expediency, are risking a repeat of all the ugliness of 1983 by proposing another totally inappropriate constitutional amendment on abortion.
An analysis of the events since 1983 would surely lead any rational observer to conclude that the sectarian and divisive amendment, which was introduced in response to intensive lobbying by right wing fundamentalist groups, has been a disaster. The then Leaders of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, Deputies Haughey and FitzGerald, who willingly caved in to the mullahs in Irish society in the hope of securing some electoral advantage, have a lot to answer for.
Many of the warnings that those of us who opposed that amendment gave at that time about its likely consequences have, all too tragically, been shown to be accurate. Since the amendment was inserted in our Constitution we have seen it used to secure the forced closure of pregnancy counselling clinics. This has not done anything to reduce the flow of Irish women travelling to Britain for abortions, but it is has meant that they are denied the skills of properly trained counsellors at what can often be a very difficult and traumatic time. We have seen a virtual legal witch hunt against students, and we have seen a range of respected medical publications, dealing with a wide range of health issues including abortion forced off our library shelves and copies of internationally renowned newspapers likeThe Guardian dumped into the shredder.
We also saw a young 14 year old rape victim subjected to further legal humiliation and degradation by being injuncted from leaving the country by the High Court at the request of the Attorney General.
Given these events the response of a Government with any shred of honesty or courage would surely have been to admit that the whole 1983 Amendment was a disaster and urge the people to repeal it in another referendum. Honesty and courage have never been the mark of Fianna Fáil Administrations, especially in regard to social affairs, and the Government of Deputy Reynolds is no exception.
While they are proposing constitutional amendments which will restore the right of Irishwomen to travel abroad for pregnancy terminations and ensure that they are in a position to get some information — how or how much we still do not know — the Government are going to compound the error of 1983 by proposing another amendment which will pose a further threat to the lives and health of Irish women, and which will cause major problems of interpretation for the medical profession.
This abortion amendment raises questions about the nature of the Republic we live in, the role of majorities and minorities and individual rights. The amendment suggests, first, that we are not a republic in the true sense in that the Constitution reflects the values of only one of the religions, albeit the majority one, practised in this State and ignores altogether those who profess no religion; second that the majority are entitled to impose their will on the minority — a "winner takes all" policy which diminishes democracy; and third, that in areas of sexual politics the individual has no democratic choice, or cannot be trusted to make the "correct" choice, which therefore has to be made for him or her.
The referendum is being presented as the democratic way to decide the issue. The flaws in this argument were exposed a long time ago in the statement by the Methodist Council on Social Welfare prior to the 1983 referendum:
It may seen undemocratic to oppose a referendum, but real democracy means an open, balanced society in which there is free play for opinion. Democracy is achieved slowly by a process of growing maturity and tolerance and trust. It can be destroyed at a stroke by a doctrinaire edict.
Real democracy may even be damaged by a popular referendum following an emotive ideological campaign, which may persuade people to vote in some degree for a closed society. It would be especially unfortunate when we seek a society of open understanding for all of Ireland, that one part of Ireland should be asked to define itself in this respect as a closed society on conservative Roman Catholic lines.
Democratic Left does not believe that it is possible or appropriate for a modern democratic state to attempt to deal with complex matters of personal morality such as abortion, in the Constitution. The 1983 Amendment which sought to impose the views of one section of Irish society, who oppose abortion in all circumstances, on those who take a different view was fundamentally antidemocratic and contrary to the principles of genuine republicanism.
Members of Fianna Fáil, including the Taoiseach, on Sunday last made their annual pilgrimage to the grave of Wolfe Tone in Bodenstown. Do they ever pause to consider what Wolfe Tone stood for? Do they ever give any thought to the political philosophy espoused by Wolfe Tone? Have they forgotten, or did they ever know, that Tone stood for a lot more than simply breaking the connection with England? Do they not realise that the 1983 Amendment and their latest proposal for the abortion issue are totally in conflict with the sort of democratic pluralism which Tone advocated?
Despite what Fianna Fáil and other right wing groups claim about the Irish people being implacably opposed to abortion, there is no unanimity in Irish society on abortion, there is no national consensus. While many remain fundamentally opposed to abortion under any circumstances — and their personal views must be respected — all the opinion polls taken since the "X" case, show that the public now acknowledge that the issue is a lot more complex than they were led to believe in 1983. In addition, the fact that some 5,000 Irish women travel to Britain each year for terminations, suggests that there are a substantial number of Irish people who believe that abortion is a legitimate response when faced with a crisis pregnancy. This is the equivalent of almost 10 per cent of the birth rate and is a higher rate of abortion than among Dutch women, where terminations are relatively freely available.
We have a serious abortion problem in Ireland. The Government may seek to close their eyes to this and to create conditions where that problem can continue to be exported to Great Britain, but that does not deny the fact that the problem is already there. The interests of democracy can never be served by one group using the Constitution to force its views of a complex matter of personal morality on others who take a different view. It should not be the role of the Constitution or our laws to impose majority — or minority — ethics on everyone.
A US President, William Taft, said almost 80 years ago.
Constitutions are checks upon the hasty actions of the majority. They are the self-imposed restraints of a whole people upon a majority of them to secure sober action and a respect for the rights of the minority.
He was speaking of the US Constitution but the philosophy behind his comments is universal and is as valid today here in Ireland as it was all those years ago.
This debate is first and foremost about women's lives and women's health. One might be forgiven for thinking otherwise over the last few weeks as legal, medical and theological minutiae have bombarded the country. People keep talking about the "experts", but the one person who really is an expert on her own life and health — the woman — is being treated with contempt. The very wording of the amendment on abortion tells us to dismiss her views even if she is suicidal. "Go on, kill yourself. See if we care" seems to be the message from the Government in this proposed referendum.
Why is there such enormous fear of allowing women some moral autonomy? Do we here in the Dáil — predominantly men — mistrust them so much? We all know that it is still primarily women who bring up children in our society, who care for them, make enormous sacrifices for them and carry the heaviest burden of family welfare in tough times. Who are we to say that they are not fit to make decision about a life or health-threatening pregnancy?
The sexual and reproductive functions of women have of course been the subject of taboo, mystery and male control, since the beginning of time. The direct insight of women into the unique and intimate relationship they have with their own fertility is totally absent from the theology, mores and laws which govern this society, and it is men primarily who for the next few days in this House will interpret what ordered and civilised society must mean in Ireland for Irish women. The least we should do is acknowledge our inadequacy in this area and acknowledge it with some humility.
The sexual conservatism of post-independence Ireland is the result of centuries of male perceptions dictating law in this land. Many aspects of Irish law and the Irish Constitution oppress the civil liberties of women as individual citizens and reflect ancient, sometimes biblical, taboos. Ironically the very symbol of our nation is one linked to fertility, "Mother Ireland" in her suffering, a recurrent symbol in the folklore of independence and nationalism.
The function of maternity is so venerated that it is identified in our Constitution as the focal point of the family, and therefore Irish society. Yet, our Constitution, along with the theological ethos which still dominates many areas of public policy hardly reflects the social upheavals which have led to women becoming citizens in their own right.
The roles, participation and input of men and women in society have up until very recently followed strict lines of financial and social dependence for the woman, due to her role as mother and the needs surrounding it, security, freedom from want etc, in order to nurture her children.
The increased participation of women in the workplace, and more importantly, the generalisation of safe contraception have totally disrupted the codes which have dictated the respective role of women and men in society. As women can now postpone, often indefinitely put off, the function of procreation within a relationship, the role of male "provider" has become less vital in the relations between the sexes.
Indeed, how many young couples in this country, with one of the highest rates of home ownership in Europe, would not be capable of taking out a mortgage were it not for the financial contribution of the woman who, in order to keep her job, will plan her child bearing? No one can deny that relations between the sexes and their common role within society have changed fundamentally and perhaps nowhere more than in the area of decision making with regard to fertility. It is time that our Constitution, the laws of our State and this House reflected that reality.
This amendment is anti-life and antiwoman. The 1983 amendment, which was the basis for the Supreme Court judgment in the X case, specified the equal right to life of the woman. In rolling back the Supreme Court judgment, this proposed wording gives women an unequal—and lesser—right to life than a foetus. It places major qualifications on her right to life — qualifications not placed on any other category of person in the Constitution. It is claimed that this referendum emphasises respect for life, but it actually undermines a woman's right to life. In this it is profoundly misogynistic and, in my view, immoral.
The anti-abortion groups like to give the impression that they have a monopoly on morality. They do not. To reduce complex moral and ethical questions to simplicities and certainties may be comforting for them, but for most of us, things are not so clear-cut. Legislators charged with making laws for all citizens, must wrestle with the complexities of issues and make the best decision we can in the particular circumstances. We cannot evade our responsibilities by allowing one particular denomination to define morality for the whole of society. Nor can we evade them simply by declaring women free to travel to another jurisdiction for abortions while refusing to legislate for the necessary medical provision at home. Morality, responsibility, respect for life all dictate that we should face up to this very real and very painful dilemma. It is no longer acceptable to sub-contract our social problems and moral dilemmas to Europe or elsewhere. It is time, as I said last week, that we stopped asking British doctors to do our "sinning" for us.
Democratic Left have said all along that the correct response to the judgment of the Supreme Court in the "X" case was legislative action by the Dáil, and everything that has happened since the Government published their wording has demonstrated the folly of attempting to deal with a complex medical and social issue like abortion through a brief constitutional amendment. There is still utter confusion in Government circles as to what the wording means, with both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health on the record contradicting key passages of the briefing document prepared, we must assume, by the Attorney General. If there is such confusion among Government Ministers — and we know that the Government themselves are divided on the issue — as to what the amendment means, what prospect is there of the ordinary voter being in a position to make an informed judgment on the matter if it is put before the people in a referendum?
The Taoiseach, at last week's meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, apparently produced a list of doctors who he said had indicated that they had no problems with the meaning of the wording of the proposed amendment. It would be quite easy to produce another list of doctors who have indicated that they will have very great problems in interpreting the words. I have received a letter signed by nine obstetricians who express grave concern about the possible implications of the wording. I am sure all the Deputies in the House have received the same letter. The medical profession is just as deeply divided on this issue as any other section of Irish society. Despite what the Taoiseach has implied on a number of occasions, the Irish Medical Organisation has no specific policy on this matter. The real danger is that, if it is passed in its present form, doctors will differ and women may die as a result.
The decision of Fianna Fáil to go for a constitutional amendment rather than legislation was dictated by political cowardice and electoral opportunism. They wanted to be seen to be doing something so as to appease the ultra right-wing groups who demanded the 1983 amendment, insisted on that wording, and then reacted with indignation when the Supreme Court decided that it allowed for abortion in certain very limited circumstances. With a constitutional amendment the Government knew that they would get away with a fudge, that they could come up with a brief and vague wording which, in the end, would have to be interpreted by the Supreme Court in any event. They did not have the courage to produce legislation where they would have to spell out in detail what they stood for and what they were proposing. With legislation, for instance, the first thing they would have had to do was define the terms they mean. Every Bill has to have definitions of the terms it uses. Even everyday terms have to be defined. The recent Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Bill had to contain a definition of a contraceptive. The Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Bill contained a definition of a spouse.
I want to challenge the Minister, in his response to this debate, to provide an acceptable definition of the noun "unborn" used in the proposed amendment. He will not be able to do it, because this is a very difficult question and there is no unanimity among the medical profession as to when life "begins". While the Minister is at it, perhaps he could also come up with acceptable definitions for the words "termination", "disorder" and "substantial". He is dodging providing definitions of these terms by bringing forward referenda Bills.
Abortion is one of the most complex social and medical issues facing modern society. It is ludicrous to try to deal with it in an amendment of 56 words when a relatively non-controversial area like entitlement to holidays requires legislation of more than 6,000 words. The Government's insistence on proceeding with this amendment is likely to lead to another legal and constitutional quagmire. In the end it will not matter what the Taoiseach or Minister say it means or what they believe it means. If it is inserted in the Constitution, as was the case of the 1983 Amendment, it will in all probability be up to the Supreme Court to decide what the wording means.
In 1983 the promoters of the amendment, inside and outside this House, insisted that the amendment would change nothing, that its only purpose was to prevent the Dáil from legislating at some time in the future to legalise abortion. In fact, it changed a lot and, as I said earlier, led to the closure of pregnancy counselling services, the banning of books and magazines and the horror of a young child being dragged before the court. Nobody can say for definite at this stage what this amendment will result in if it is passed.
However, what is most incomprehensible to women is the Government's refusal to allow for termination of pregnancy that arises from rape or incest. The myths and stereotypes surrounding violence against women, such as, "she must enjoy it or she would leave"; "she must ask for it"; "she deserves it", lay the blame on women. It is a failure of our society that we have not debunked these myths. Victims of physical and sexual violence of both sexes are traumatised by their experience, but in the majority of cases the victims are women, and it is only the female victime who must bear the extra psychological trauma of unwanted pregnancy.
How cruel a society we are that having failed to address the widespread problem of violence against women we then impose a second form of guilt by justifying enforced pregnancy on the woman. What some have argued is an additional form of guilt, the decision to terminate a pregnancy which is the result of violence, is invented by theocratic beliefs and the taboos they perpetuate surrounding sexuality. Nowhere is this hypocrisy of society more apparent than in this area. We deny that our teenagers have a sexual life; we deny them the possibility of responsible behaviour within sexual relationships by denying them knowledge; indeed, we deny that they are sexually active at all. For instance, we refuse to provide for the sale of condoms through vending machines in public houses and elsewhere.
Most modern affluent societies postpone the time at which a young woman procreates. We prolong childhood into adolescence, preferring to educate our young women and encourage them to marry only some years after their bodies have biologically become capable of reproduction. Indeed, their function as citizens does not become official until the age of 18; yet we are subjected to the heinous argument of some who, as during the `X' case, would impose motherhood on girls of 14 or 15 who have been raped. It is a repulsive argument which demeans us all. During the drama of the `X' case I got many letters urging compassion for that young girl, and one such letter stuck in my mind. It was from a young woman who felt that a quotation from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was appropriate in the circumstances, when Juliet's father said: "my child is yet a stranger in the world; she hath not seen the change of 14 years; let two more summers wither in their pride, ere we may think her ripe to be a bride". That was written hundreds of years ago, yet today we insist on forcing young girls to carry the full term pregnancy arising from rape or incest. Have we forgotten so quickly the sympathy and concern for the young rape victim whose case precipitated this governmental response? Our concern then was, and our concern now should be, that no girl or woman in that position should be forced by our laws to carry through with such a pregnancy.
The decision to ignore the particular trauma of rape or incest victims who may become pregnant is particularly inexplicable. Many people, who would oppose abortion in other circumstances, would concede that those who have been the victims of rape or incest should not be compelled to carry to full term such a pregnancy. The Government apparently want to draw a discreet constitutional veil over the whole problem of pregnancy following rape and incest.
While there are clearly deep differences of opinion in Ireland and in other countries regarding women's freedom to choose to have an abortion, there is surely no civilised person, man or woman, who would question the right of a woman to exercise freedom of choice in regard to with whom she will have the most intimate of relations. In acts of rape or incest, women are denied choice. This House will be compounding the original offence if we approve of a wording which seeks to deny women any prospect of terminating a pregnancy resulting from such a crime. Society agrees that rape and incest are heinous crimes, but the Government are saying in this amendment that where the victim becomes pregnant, the pregnancy supersedes the crime. This thinking can only be described as the dark side of civilisation.
If the three amendments are passed in their present form, the ability of a woman or girl to secure a termination of a pregnancy arising from rape or incest will be determined by the level of her income or that of her family. If her family has the money to pay the considerable cost of travel to Britain for an abortion, then she will be able to get one. If her family is poor then what the Government are saying in these amendments is tough luck: we will force you to endure this pregnancy and all the trauma and distress that goes with it; we will force you to carry this foetus for nine months even if every day it brings back haunting memories of the assault on you. We do not care what damage it causes to your physcal or mental health, we will do this rather than sully our "holy little island".
The use of the words "...a real and substantial risk to her life, not being a risk of self-destruction" arrogantly implies that a woman's own feeling and mental condition, even if severe enough to constitute a real risk of suicide are not to be classed as "real and substantial", that however serious a woman's mental condition may be, this in some way is "not real". This has echoes of pre-20th century attitudes to mental illness and is completely inappropriate for a Constitution that will, presumably, be a basis for Irish law well into the 21st century.
We have heard sweeping statements from promoters of this amendment that "pregnant women never commit suicide", but the eminent psychiatrist, Dr. Anthony Clare, together with his colleague Dr. Tyrell, have produced evidence showing that the threat is far from imaginary. It is true that the rate of suicide among pregnant women is lower than that for the population as a whole, and that is because for the majority of women a planned and safe pregnancy is a joyous event.
Drs. Clare and Tyrell point to statistics in Britain which show that the suicide risk in pregnancy has been falling steadily. Dr. Clare quotes what he describes as a "highly respected and cautious social psychiatrist", now Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Robert Kendall, suggesting that the decline was due to a number of social changes, including the provision of legal abortion and the increasing availability of contraception. Dr. Clare quotes a Hungarian study involving over 200 women who had attempted suicide while pregnant and found the reasons for the attempt included unwanted pregnancy and the desire for an abortion. In another American study quoted by Dr. Clare, Dr. Gabrielson and his colleagues reported on 105 pregnant teenagers, 14 of whom had attempted to kill themselves. They claimed that women who were single, Catholic and not living at poverty level were more likely to attempt or threaten suicide than other women who had borne children in their teens.
This research shows that we simply cannot afford to take a risk and totally ignore the reality that an unwanted pregnancy, especially one conceived as a result of rape or incest, can drive a woman — particularly a young girl — to suicide. Last February and March the Members of this House seemed to have been as anguished as the rest of the population about the awful plight of the young girl at the centre of the X case. However, that now seems to have evaporated as far as the Government are concerned. In his speech today the Minister drew on medical experts to show that it was necessary to provide abortion, which was not indirect abortion, on the basis that there was a rare risk that, as a result of a heart condition, an ectopic pregnancy or some other condition, a termination might be necessary. There is also medical evidence that there is a risk — which may be a rare risk — that some woman may kill herself as a result of a pregnancy, yet this is being deliberately excluded.
I accept the Minister's argument in relation to the necessity for direct termination in certain medical circumstances. However, you cannot then on the other hand rule out other medical circumstances simply because, as the Minister argues, this may provide or may have been used as the basis for widespread abortion in other countries. Whether that happens in Ireland is a matter for this House to decide. To ensure that no such risks are taken Democratic Left will be proposing on Committee Stage that the Government's amendment should be redrafted along the following lines:
Subsection (3) of this section shall not limit freedom to provide or obtain, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, termination of a pregnancy in order to protect against a real and substantial risk to the life or health of a pregnant woman.
If such an amendment were passed and incorporated in our Constitution the Dáil would then be free to legislate for the circumstances where an abortion is necessary.
Last week Democratic Left produced a detailed policy document entitledWomen's Life, Health and Welfare, which sets out our policy positions on a number of matters relating to sexuality, reproduction and health. Among other subjects it covered education for sexuality, family planning, women's gynaecological health, AIDS-HIV, counselling services, genetic counselling services for the infertile and termination of pregnancies. In publishing this policy document we were the first party in the Dáil to clearly and unambiguously set out the circumstances in which abortion should be permitted in this jurisdiction.
Democratic Left believe that termination of pregnancy should be made available in the context of the information programmes and services we also call for in our document, where a registered medical practitioner has certified that certain conditions apply and where the woman has been counselled and all options have been fully explained to her. The conditions which would warrant a termination would be any one or more of the following: where it is certain that the foetus cannot survive the pregnancy; where the life of the woman is seriously at risk; where the health — physical, psychological and emotional — of the women is seriously at risk and the pregnancy has not advanced more than 16 weeks; where the woman has become pregnant as a result of rape or incest and the pregnancy has not advanced more than 16 weeks.
We believe that information is the key which enables people to exercise their sexuality with confidence and responsibility. It should be made available through a lifeskills education programme in schools, advice about the full range of contraceptive methods from GPs, family planning centres, etc., counselling services, including genetic counselling for people with particular difficulties and information programmes aimed at particular target groups such as those at risk in relation to AIDS-HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and women who should be screened for breast or cervical cancer, etc.
Along with information, services must also be provided in this country to allow people to make informed and responsible choices. Thus, a comprehensive counselling service including amniocentesis testing in early pregnancy should be available locally to everyone who needs it, including medical card holders. Abortion is not and must never be allowed to become a trivial matter. Abortion should not be used as a method of contraception. But crisis pregnancies are a fact of modern life and totally outlawing abortion is simply to add to the trauma and distress of many women.
There must be greatly improved support for those women who will decide to go ahead with a crisis pregnancy. There must be improvements in maternity services; there must be a radical development in the level of child care services; and serious steps must be taken to ensure that all parents are provided with an adequate income and support services. Most of all, if we are serious about reducing unwanted pregnancies, we must have a comprehensive family planning service and education on sexuality in their schools. One of the reasons there is a relatively low abortion rate among Dutch women is that they have access to a first-class family planning service. I would be more impressed with those who rail against abortion, if they were prepared to promote comprehensive family planning. But those who are most opposed to abortion are generally those who are also most vociferous in their opposition to any reform of our family planning laws.
Democratic Left have put their cards on the table in regard to abortion, and I think it is time that all other parties did likewise. It is clear that Fianna Fáil, as a party, are opposed to abortion in all circumstances, even where the life or health of a mother is threatened, although individual members of the party like the Minister, Deputy McCreevy, and Deputy McDaid have had the courage to express different personal views. But what of Fine Gael, Labour and the Progessive Democrats? It is time that all parties stopped sheltering behind constitutional generalities and came out and told the electorate exactly where they stand on what is one of the biggest social issues facing modern Ireland. Do you oppose abortion in all circumstances? If not, what are the circumstances in which they believe it should be allowed? That debate is necessary and it should take place in this House.
This whole exercise reeks of hypocrisy. The Government have opposed a unilateral deadline to have the referendum on 3 December, which means that the time the Dáil will have to debate it is derisory. It has not been explained why the referendum cannot be on 3 January, 3 February or even 3 March. There is a great contrast between the response of the Taoiseach to the Supreme Court judgment in the X case and the judgment on Cabinet confidentiality; for instance in relation to Cabinet confidentiality the Taoiseach said that the Supreme Court had spoken and everyone must accept their judgment but in relation to the X case he said that the Supreme Court had spoken and everybody must reject their judgment. It is not hard to find the reason for the different approach: Cabinet confidentiality protects Fianna Fáil, abortion threatens them. They cannot even bring themselves to use the word "abortion", they prefer to hide behind a meaningless euphemism like the "substantive issue". "Abortion" is used only as a term of abuse and anyone who opposes a blanket ban is accused of advocating abortion on demand. This is a cynical exercise by a politically bankrupt Government which will choose to dance with the angles on the heads of women rather than face the reality of the problems which women face.
The Government will now facilitate the traffic of Irish women to Britain for abortion because they know that, without the safety valve of the British health system. the demand for the introduction of abortion here would be immense. What of the Progressive Democrats? Not for the first time, the fate of a measure before this Dáil will be decided by the attitude of the Progressive Democrats. People like the Minister, Deputy Harney and Mr. McDowell have been vocal in their criticisms of the Government's decision to have a referendum and particularly of the wording in the Twelfth Amendment. They have pointed to the potential dangers for women if this wording is passed. Apparently the six Progressive Democrat Deputies will vote for the Bill but will not campaign for it and may urge the public to vote "no" in the referendum. How can they credibly urge people to vote against a measure they will have voted for in the Dáil?
On a number of occasions the Progressive Democrats have brought the Dáil to the edge of dissolution and the country to the verge of a general election, most notably in 1990, when the matter at issue was the truthfulness of a member of the Government. The only conclusion that can now be drawn is that the Progressive Democrats consider the admitted threat to the lives and health of Irish women to be less important than whether Deputy Lenihan told the truth about events which had taken place some eight years previously. If Government Members go through with this hypocritical charade of voting for something in which they believe it will be the final nail in their political coffins.
In conclusion, I suggest that the Dáil must now do its duty and bring this cynical charade to a halt. It must protect the lives and health of women and defend democratic principles by rejecting the Government's wording for the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution. The Democratic Left Party's amendment proposes that the House decline to give a second reading to the Bill.