An Bille um an gCeathrú Leasú Déag ar an mBunreacht, 1992: An Coiste (Atógáil) agus na Céimeanna Deireadh. Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1992: Committee Stage (Resumed) and Final Stages.

Atógadh an díospóireacht ar leasú a 1:
I gCuid I, leathanach 7, líne 3, ", comhairliú nó cúnamh" a chur isteach tar éis "faisnéis",
I gcuid II, leathanach 7, líne 9, ", counselling or assistance" a chur isteach tar éis "information".
—(Deputy Howlin.)
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
In Part I, page 6, line 3, after "faisnéis" to insert", comhairliú nó cúnamh",
In part II, page 6, line 9, after "information" to insert ", counselling or assistance".
—(Deputy Howlin).

I had started to tease out further the whole question of what exactly the Minister for Justice means by the term "referral" as opposed to "information". He seems very coy — a term I would not normally attach to the Minister — about tackling the question which is being put to ensure that this amendment, if passed, will mean what it says and nothing else. The amendment would not permit directive counselling but would permit non-directive counselling. However, the wording of the amendment would not make that distinction. That will be done in the legislation. The words "directive" and "non-directive" do not appear in the amendment. Therefore the amendmentper se will not distinguish between directive and non-directive counselling.

With the greatest respect, we may end up allowing people to have information, counselling and support in a crisis pregnancy under a system which will finish up in a puff of smoke. That is why it is necessary for us to tease out the use of words in one speech or another. The Minister for Health got nearer to what we are trying to avoid, that is clinics in which the only information and advice a woman with a crisis pregnancy gets is to go abroad for an abortion. We do not want to see that sort of advice clinic. The Minister for Health when talking about books, magazines, radio and television said that such information will only be permitted in so far as it is factual in nature, and instead of leaving it there he went on "and does not seek to promote abortion in preference to alternative courses of action."

The word "promote" should be looked at carefully with regard to the legislation. It is a more meaningful word than "referral". The Minister should get his advisers to look at this. The use of the word "promote" as opposed to "referral" which is open to a number of interpretations would be much safer. For example, I can tell the Minister that there are lots of shops in Grafton Street and that is factual, but I can also say that one of them is called such-and-such and that it is great for men's overcoats, and that seems to be referral, but in fact it is just further elaboration of the same information that there are lots of shops in Grafton Street.

If, on the one hand, the law will permit factual information to be published in books or magazines, the Minister, Deputy O'Connell, said on "Prime Time", the programme we shared on television, that would mean the names and addresses without any indication as to which is good or bad. Where does one draw the line in the doctor's surgery or in the advice clinic? A doctor may give a woman all the options he can and a woman may go away and think about it and then come back and thank the doctor for the names and addresses of CURA, the Rape Crisis Centre and so on, which were given because the person was pregnant due to rape in order to assist her to make a decision not to have an abortion. The woman may say that having considered all the advice she wants to have an abortion and wants the names and addresses of clinics which the doctor thinks would look after her properly in the circumstances in which she finds herself; the doctor would refuse because he cannot go any further, although he can tell her to sit in his waiting room for ten minutes and read throughWoman's Way magazine, or whatever, or some leaflets that are there.

Is it necessary to put that onus on advice clinics so that they cannot actually say "Here is a leaflet" such as the one Deputy Fennell showed us from Northern Ireland? When the Ministers are answering I want them to understand what we are trying to tease out. We are trying to make sure that a non-directive counselling service that becomes available with all the necessary resources will not be just some kind of a talking shop. I am not saying that it must refer people or promote anything but it must be useful. It must be of some benefit to the traumatised person seeking it. In most cases people will be happy to complete their pregnancies and deliver their babies safely.

Let us look at the word "promote" because the Minister, Deputy O'Connell, got closer to what we are trying to avoid than the Minister for Justice did in the way he described non-directive counselling. Perhaps the Ministers would take a look at those issues.

Before calling Deputy De Rossa, I would again remind the House of the time constraint. We must adhere to the requirements of Committee Stage debate. We refer to what is in the Schedule and the amendments proposed which would alter that. If we are to indulge in projecting ourselves into legislation that has not yet appeared, or if we indulge too much in historical fact we are avoiding the opportunity we have of exchanging our views in relation to the present. That is what we should be doing. The Minister for Health to whom the Deputy addressed the questions has not yet addressed them here.

The reason we are trying to tease out the implications of what information will be available is because the Minister for Health very kindly outlined in the Second Stage speech the parameters within which he expects information will be available and the restrictions that will be placed on it. I have one brief question on that to which the Minister might reply. When the Minister makes a distinction between directive and non-directive counselling he is obviously saying to us on the one hand that no provider of information or counselling may direct someone solely in the direction of abortion, but is he also saying that no organisation such as CURA may ignore the option of abortion? If a person with a crisis pregnancy goes to CURA, a Roman Catholic organisation, will that organisation be obliged to outline all the options including abortion? That is a fairly straightforward question and I would appreciate it if the Minister would deal with it.

I have not yet heard an answer to the query as to the definition of "referral". What is "abortion referral"? What precisely do we mean by that and how do we distinguish between information and referral?

When I spoke earlier I referred to an abortion pill which is available in France and Britain and I gave it the incorrect title. It is actually RU486, and I understand there is a similar pill called the MIFEGYNE pill. My amendment seeks to ensure that services include that kind of service and would not exclude information on the range of abortion procedures that are available. As I understand it, the RU486 and the MIFEGYNE procedure is much less traumatic, primarily because it is administered in the early stages, within the first seven weeks in France and within the first nine weeks in England.

An tAire. The Minister will notice that I am making the distinction because there has been a fusion of two Ministers. I hear people saying "the Minister" and I do not want to be accused of——

I think they know.

There are a couple of items to which I would like to refer. The Deputies really want the Minister for Health to say some other things. What we are really talking about and getting at the moment is advice as to how we would consider framing the legislation which has not yet been drafted. We have only indicated a summary of what the draft proposals might be and all of that is contingent on the endorsement of the Amendment to the Constitution which comes first. The legislation will be subsequent to that. It is useful all the same because "information" is the key word here. For that reason I think the latitude is understood and, thankfully, understood by you too, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

Let me make a couple of comments and then the Minister for Health might like to expand. The amendment we are talking about now will open up the right to provide and receive information concerning services available in other countries not merely in those cases where termination of a pregnancy is lawful in the State but concerning all services lawfully available outside the State.

I have made it clear that the Government are prepared to permit non-directive counselling but are not prepared to permit directive counselling. I am advised that the word "information" in this Bill is sufficient, without any reference to counselling, to achieve that purpose. That explains the reference on Second Stage which Deputy Owen mentioned. In line with the Government's objective, the legislation which the Minister for Health proposes to initiate, should the people accept the proposal in the amendment, will provide for non-directive counselling and prohibit directive counselling. Under the legislation non-directive counselling will set out all the available options in order to let the person make the informed decision for herself. The Minister for Health and I are at one in our views on this approach. There is no divergence of view whatever between us on the matter, as appears to be suggested in a previous intervention by Deputy Owen.

Let me refer to a matter that was raised by Deputy Shatter. He suggested that the amendment Bill could inhibit the counselling of a pregnant woman not to have an abortion. I want to reject that argument without hesitation. The implication that Article 40.3.º3 could be used to inhibit advice to a woman that she should not have an abortion is clearly wrong because it would fly in the face of the whole tenor of Article 40.3.º3 which is framed to protect the life of the unborn. The precise form of the non-directive counselling would be set out in the legislation.

There was a point made about the commercial link. Deputy De Rossa made this point as well. The question of the commercial link was only relevant when people were claiming that they had rights under EC law to provide information. The question of commercial link becomes irrelevant once the amendment is made. Such a link was only relevant when the question of freedom of information under EC law was in question. Since the proposed amendment will make information available under Irish law the question of whether or not there is a commercial link no longer applies. I think that is the point that Deputy De Rossa was making.

It must also be remembered that freedom of information under EC law is not unlimited. That is another key point. That is where the legislation comes in. States may impose restrictions to suit their own particular culture; and quite a number of EC states have restrictions — and some of the restrictions are quite severe — on the supply of information about abortion. All of the other talk we have had then is following the amendment, the legislation, the areas of restriction and anything else one wishes to apply. For example, we do not want advertising on bill boards. That is certainly out. There are other areas which can be gone into when the legislation is being considered.

I have one final point to put to the Minister on that. Am I right in thinking that what the Minister is saying is that the counselling has to be non-directive in so far as it refers to anything to do with abortion but can actually be directive in so far as it has to do with any other option?

The Deputy used the word "factual" previously. It was mentioned by the Minister for Health that it had to be factual but not advocating abortionper se.

Not promoting abortion.

Certainly all the range of options would be available and it would be for the individual then to decide what she herself wished to do. One particular option would not be advocated deliberately.

Deputy Shatter's point was that if the term "non-directive" is used one has to be non-directive right across the board. The Minister has said now that counselling can be non-directive only with regard to abortion but it can be directive with regard to advising someone to go to CURA or any of those organisations. The Minister is mixing directive and non-directive.

We will not be using the word "directive".

No, but it will be allowed in practice to use directive counselling to prevent a woman from having an abortion. Is that not essentially what the Minister is saying?

What I am saying is that we will not be using the words "directive" or "non-directive" in the legislation because they are not legal terms. There will be guidance and advice to a woman on continuing her pregnancy but there will be no question of advocating abortion.

So the Minister will not be using those two terms in legislation?

No. They are inclined to cause confusion.

Will the Minister use the word "counselling"?

We will be talking about advice and guidance to a woman on continuing with her pregnancy, but we would not allow advocating abortion.

There are a few points that were mentioned by a number of Deputies here on the question of referral or advocating. Factual information will be provided on the various options available to the person. Deputy Owen mentioned the possible role of health boards and other State agencies in providing information on abortion services. It is very important to make it clear that the proposed amendment relates to permitting people or agencies who wish to do so to provide such information within the legislative conditions that the Oireachtas may decide. It does not imply that the State agencies will be providing the abortion information. I think Deputies would agree with me that it would not be appropriate that the State itself should provide information on services which are prohibited in this country, so it would not be State agencies that would be providing the abortion information.

On the wider issue, the need to make sure that adequate support services are available for people undergoing psychiatric or psychological crises whether related to pregnancy or not, this is of course the ongoing responsibility of the statutory services.

Counselling is something very private between a doctor and a patient. They do not need all these very learned and trained counsellors. There are neighbours, friends, families and so on who give this advice to the girl about having her baby, keeping her baby, giving it for adoption. I am reading about the psychological service that is available and how we must have specially trained personnel to do this. I am perhaps a little simplistic in my way, but I found some very good people who could advise a girl very well about continuing with her pregnancy, having her baby, helping and providing the support services for her — I seem to have alarmed one Deputy there with what I am saying. I do say that services have been given for a number of years to girls having babies and giving them for adoption etc. Girls have made an informed decision themselves having been given information about all the services that are available. This has been going on for many years. It is not something that will suddenly happen after the legislation comes into effect.

One would get the impression from some of the current debate that as soon as this law is passed there will be a sudden rush of women looking for information on abortion. During my years in medical practice I dealt with hundreds of girls who were contemplating abortion. While some may have talked with a clergyman I did not meet one who consulted a psychiatrist. While some, in their emotional turmoil, seriously contemplated disposing of the foetus, but none ever contemplated taking their own lives. Very few such cases are recorded, and indeed the documentation in relation to those is not reliable.

I make those points because I get the impression that some people seem to think that once the amendment is agreed to we will be setting up clinics and providing a counselling service on a regional basis for pregnant girls and that suddenly we will have all these girls contemplating abortion.

They will be dealing with crisis pregnancies.

These will be dealt with by the counselling services but one does not need to set up clinics all over the country.

By whom?

The Minister has just said that the State will not be involved.

No, the State will not be involved.

Will the health boards be involved?

No, voluntary agencies will do this work.

Name one?

During the years the voluntary agencies have played an important part in counselling and this will not be something new——

Why should the State not be involved in doing something that will be lawful once this amendment is passed?

If the State was to become involved in dispensing abortion information it would follow that it would be advocating——

But it would be doing something that was lawful.

No, the statutory services could not get involved in that.

In giving factual information?

I would think that the statutory services would not be providing the information.

This is very strange.


The Deputies should bear with me as I try to explain the matter to them.

This is unbelievable.

I ask the Minister to bear with me, please.

My apologies.

I am overwhelmed.

If we look at what is required of us just now, it is to deal with what is before us. There have been indications that there will be legislation. While one can inquire about when it will come I do not think it was ever given to anyone of us to presume to anticipate that which is not before us. Could we concentrate, as we are required to do on Commitee Stage, on the Schedule and stay with what is in the amendments to the Bill?

But this is relevant.

I would be delighted to do that if the Minister would make an announcement today that the public should also ignore his announced intention in relation to legislation dealing with the question of information because what we are trying to do is to tease out what he is proposing to do with legislation after the amendment to the Constitution is carried.

We were provided with information by the Minister in his Second Stage speech as to the kind of restrictions he would place on information once the amendment was carried. What we are trying to do now is to tease out exactly what this means. It is important that people would know, given that they will have to make up their minds on the amendment, what precisely the Government are proposing in this regard. During his speech the other night the Minister said that non-directive counselling means "setting out all the available options in order to let the person make an informed decision for herself."

It seems from what the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Health have said that it will be in order and legal for some clinics — I instance the CURA Clinic which is anti-abortion and which therefore will not advise on all the options — not to provide information on all the options but only on the options they think are valid for the woman concerned, to the exclusion of abortion. It seems that we have drawn out a number of crucial contradictions as regard what the Government and the Minister are proposing on this question of information.

I am concerned about the Minister's statement that the health services will not have a role in the matter of information, because to a significant extent, the people who will be seeking to avail of such information are the people who avail of the public health services. I would like to know precisely what distinction the Minister is making. He is saying that it probably would be better if people received information from their neighbours and friends but it is an unfortunate fact of life that in many cases women have been pressured by friends and relations into having abortions because of what was perceived as the shame attaching to the pregnancy.

There is no shame.

But that is fact. Indeed, in our policy——

Obviously the Deputy has not dealt with any of those cases.

I am not a doctor and I can only tell the Minister of what I come up against as a public representative in my advice centres, I know that there have been cases where women have been advised by their friends to have an abortion because it is the quickest, cleanest and handiest way out. Sometimes it is the man responsible for the pregnancy who puts pressure on the woman to have an abortion. If we are going to leave women in that situation we are doing them a disservice. As the Minister said, we will have to provide non-directive counselling but it will have to be professional counselling, otherwise, as legislators, we would be derelict in our duty towards these women to ensure they make the best choice for themselves, not for their husband, their financee, their mother or their father.

That is correct.

Like Deputy De Rossa, I have to express grave concern about the indication which has just been given by the Minister for Health that State agencies, the health boards and so on, will be washing their hands of this whole affair and will not be involved in giving information. That is a most remarkable statement because what we are talking about here is an activity that will be legal — the giving of information that people will need.

Is the Minister telling the House that he, as a representative of the health agencies of the State, is going to walk away and say that we will leave it to the voluntary agencies to supply the information? If so, this is an indication of the attitude and approach that has been adopted by the Minister and the Government on this issue — they do not want to be involved; they want to do the minimum and to let somebody else do the rest. They want this information to be given by everyone, except themselves.

Much valuable and important work has been done across a wide field of activity by voluntary agencies. One wonders to what extent such work would be done if these agencies did not exist but there comes a time when the State has to face up to its responsibilities. Given that we have reached the point where we accept that it will be lawful and in order to provide information on abortion services why should the State not accept that, like any other agency it is involved and must make that information available through State institutions? People should be entitled to go to these institutions to get information about their health because that is what the health boards and health agencies are for. It is horrific to think that they would run away from that aspect of their responsibility. I was amazed to hear the Minister indicate that that was what he had in mind in relation to the legislation that is to come. I urge him strongly to rethink that matter.

In his comments the Minister for Justice mentioned that advice will be given within the parameters laid down in this amendment. As a person who has always advocated that the detail must be provided for in legislation rather than by way of referendum I support the concept but the purpose of the Labour Party amendment to the Bill is to give the Minister, when he comes to frame the legislation, the widest possible choice because we do not want him to be restrained or constrained by the amendment. However, that is precisely what will happen if he limits the power he is taking to the single word "information", that is a limitation which he may well find later to be a constraining and limiting factor.

When drafting this legislation the Minister may find that his powers are limited. When he gets down to dealing with the nitty gritty of the legislation he may want to extend his powers but will be unable to do so as that would beultra vires with regard to the wording of this amendment.

It is for that reason the Labour Party want to expand the Minister's powers to provide not only information but counselling and assistance for women seeking an abortion. Of course, it would be up to the Minister to decide to what extent he avails of that right. He may limit it in whatever way he wishes, that is the purpose of this legislation. If he accepts the Labour Party amendment, at least, he will have the broadest possible powers in this regard. The Minister may decline to accept our amendment, which proposes to give him those broad powers, only to discover later that he would like to have the power to legislate for more than mere information.

The funnelling of people to England, through directive counselling, to have an abortion is not the answer to this problem. However, other types of counselling could be appropriate such as that suggested by Deputy De Rossa. There are various methods of abortion, such as surgical abortion, abortion by means of an abortifacient drug, and so on. A woman seeking an abortion will not know what type of abortion is most suited to her needs or is appropriate for her medical or psychiatric condition. Therefore, it is not sufficient for the adviser — a State or voluntary agency, a doctor or whoever — to simply tell the woman the alternatives and let her decide. She may ask the doctor to advise her on whether she should have her abortion by surgical means, by taking an abortifacient drug or by some other means. As he would have examined her she would expect him to take account of her medical condition and state of mind. If doctors or advisers counsel women as to what they feel would be an appropriate method of abortion for them they would be in breach of this legislation.

That is correct.

That would be going beyond the giving of information. The Minister should consider that point carefully when drafting the legislation. He should not close that door on himself but rather address the problem in the legislation by leaving all options open. The essential difference between dealing with this matter by way of legislation rather than by consitutional referenda is that more time would be available to address the issues involved. If the Minister closes the door now he may regret it. At some future date, he may regret not including a provision for counselling and assistance when drafting the legislation. The Minister should not put himself in that position.

The same applies in regard to assistance. The legislation provides that information on abortion services in other countries may be provided here; it leaves it open for a girl or woman to avail of those services. Are we leaving it at that? Is that not a cold-blooded provision? That may be all some people might want, not every one will need counselling or assistance. However, some will need counselling of the types I referred to and others will need assistance, perhaps financial assistance. What will be the position of a person who cannot afford to go to England to avail of the services there? Some voluntary agencies may be willing to provide funding for a girl or woman in that position if it was lawful for them to do so, but under the legislation the giving of financial assistance, in this regard would be illegal. It does not come under the description of "information" and that is why we propose to insert the word "assistance" in addition to counselling. That may need further consideration and control under the legislation, but, again, the Minister should consider including some provision in that regard. He should ensure that he has the power to do that if, following consideration, he thinks it appropriate.

In the context of what the Minister for Justice stated, hopefully, this discussion will be helpful in the drafting of the legislation.

I am encouraged by the Deputy's comments.

In regard to what the Minister for Health said, none of us underestimates the support, advice and solidarity that family and friends could give to a woman faced with an unplanned pregnancy. However, in reality, the last people a woman wishes to find out about her unwanted pregnancy are her family and friends. At times, there is a tendency for a boyfriend or, indeed, families who do not like the stigma attached to an unmarried mother to offer to pay the woman involved to go to England to have an abortion. In rural districts, where there is not the same anonymity as in urban areas, there is sometimes greater pressure on women to have an abortion. Therefore, women in rural areas need to have access to skilled counselling.

Dr. Anthony Clare and Dr. J. Tyrell when referring to the circumstances that pertain to Irish women Stated: "The implications in terms of the provision of appropriate pregnancy counselling and support including the provision of information relating to adoption, abortion and the successful negotiation of a full-term pregnancy would appear obvious". They were referring to non-directive counselling. The Psychologists for Freedom of Information here wrote to me stating, "We are of the opinion that proper legislation be enacted to provide for the provision of non-directive pregnancy counselling."

I do not believe we are at cross purposes here but, as Deputy Taylor so eloquently stated, the Minister should not close any doors in this regard. The last thing any of us would wish would be for the Minister to be prevented from doing what he believes is correct because of wording in the legislation that could instigate court cases on its interpretation.

We depend very much on voluntary groups and agencies to provide health services, and from a health point of view, this work requires skilled professionals, trained people who must be funded from the health services. That is the plea that we make here. The high risk area of drug users is another area which should be given attention. The Minister for Health has provided clean needles for drug users. Similar measures have been provided in other States, and this constructive health measure has been applauded. We know drug abuse is illegal but the provision of clean needles is necessary for the health of the individual drug user and the community. We would ask the Minister to address the needs of this area in an open and constructive manner in the legislation that is to follow.

The contribution's from Deputies Barnes and Owen are very helpful. We had reached a point in the debate where we were in agreement and introducing other issues at this stage will cause confusion. We are all presupposing that the Amendment to the Constitution will be endorsed and that legislation will be enacted. That legislation will be framed in the manner outlined by the Minister for Health in his summary last night. His summary outlining the proposed legislation was broad, it covered many areas and was well received by Deputies. Some of the interpretations of the language have to be clarified, though they will not appear in the Bill, and this will result in the legislation being acceptable to all Deputies. I am pleased that we have now gone some way towards achieving this end. I will not be responsible for framing the legislation, this will be undertaken by the Minister for Health, but I will, le cúnamh Dé, be at the table and I will make my contribution as well.

It is interesting to hear the Deputies' views on how we should proceed in this matter in so far as providing all the options and information that is necessary so that people can make an informed and correct decision. We are all nearing agreement in this regard.

I would like to respond to a point made by Deputy Taylor in regard to his view that the word "information" may be too restrictive. I referred to this matter before Deputy Taylor came into the Chamber as it had already been raised by Deputy Owen. I have already told the House that the Government's purpose was to provide for non-directive counselling, but my legal advice in regard to non-directive counselling is that the word "information" in the Bill is sufficient, without any reference to counselling to achieve that purpose. In other words, it is catered for in the legislation and it is clearly understood that the Amendment as it is now framed can stand and it adequately incorporates the matters raised by Deputy Barnes. We are not restricted in that way. The word "information" is broad enough to cater for non-directive counselling and that view is also endorsed by Deputy O'Connell. Where and when such non-directive counselling may be provided can be considered when the legislation is before the House. I am sure the legislation will be very broad and voluminous to incorporate all the matters that have been referred to by the individual Deputies, and that is the way we will be proceeding.

I am still waiting for a response to the question I raised in regard to drugs and preparations, about which I have tabled an amendment, which is being discussed in tandem with the other amendment.

In regard to Deputy De Rossa's amendment, we seem to have gone off at a tangent, but I believe the discussion was useful and the Chair has shown extraordinary latitude.

It has been extracted from me, Minister.

I presume, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, that you believe the discussion has been pre-empting matters that hopefully will arise after the amendment is endorsed. In this way we may cover a lot of ground in advance that will subsequently not have to be attended to. Your generosity in this matter is appreciated.

It is my wish that all of us who are here now will be here then, whenever that will be.

Hopefully, that is something one cannot guarantee.

Deputy Barnes is quite right there. Any legislation that we might contemplate cannot be guaranteed either. The amendment to the Bill proposed by Deputy De Rossa and his colleagues protects the freedom to obtain or make available in this State information about services lawfully available in anothere state. It does not attempt to specify the types of services beyond requiring that they should be lawfully available in another state. It would be pointless, in fact it would be impossible, to attempt to itemise all the various services which are lawfully available in other states and which, accordingly, would become within the scope of the amendment proposed to the Bill. There is no need to carry out such an exercise and I do not believe it would be practical. The Bill does not mention the word "abortion" although information about that service service was clearly in mind when the amendment proposed to the Bill was first mooted, in line with the commitment that was entered into with all the party Leaders. That was clearly understood at the time and is being honoured in this amendment. Deputy De Rossa's amendment is opposed. The Bill provides for information about services lawfully available in other states in line with ten commitment entered into by party Leaders and I am not prepared and do not see any real need to depart from that wording. In those circumstances, of course, the amendment is opposed. There is a genuine and general acceptance of what we are seeking to achieve here and this is a good way to achieve it. Hopefully the legislation will receive unanimous support.

Perhaps the Minister may be surprised but I am not concerned that my amendment is opposed. I put it down to try to tease out precisely what services were being provided. As the Minister stated, the clear intention is to provide for information and presumably counselling for abortion services. That is not specifically stated in the constitutional amendment that has been proposed. Just as we had this debate in relation to travel, that amendment does not refer to the travel rights being proposed specifically for abortion.

I do not propose to go into the extraordinary double-think in regard to people who, on the one hand, are opposed to abortion and on the other, say "Yes" to the right of people to travel to Britain for an abortion, and that we will provide information services and so on. I am sure we will have that debate again next week. If the Minister is giving me a categoric assurance that what could, in shorthand, be described as pharmacological abortion, would not be excluded in the advice, counselling or information that will be provided under this amendment or under the legislation that is being proposed, then I would be satisfied to withdraw the amendment.

I do think it is necessary to go through the list of services that need to be attended to in regard to services. The Government's objective is quite clear on this matter in regard to non-directive counselling. The Bill is sufficient to cater for that without including extra words. When the legislation comes to be teased out in greater detail at another time that area can then be considered.

I did not receive a direct answer to the other question I asked and now the discussion has tended to collapse into a consensus of some kind. However, I do not believe that consensus on this particular point exists. The question is in relation to directive counselling and the definition that the Minister is giving it. The Minister for Health said that non-directive counselling means — and this is his definition — setting out all the available options in order to let the woman make an informed decision herself. Will it then be necessary for any organisations, voluntary or public, to make information available on all the options? If organisations are obliged to do so will Cura, for example, a Roman Catholic organisation who are, in principle, against abortion, be obliged to provide information on abortion?

The position will be similar to that under all legislation that provides for a service. Some organisations may decide to proceed differently from others, and obviously organisations will not be mandated to proceed in a certain way. The legislation will be wide enough to cover all organisations regardless of which option they take. We are not involved in the dictating business. The freedom available to organisations will be covered in the legislation and can be teased out when the legislation is before the House. I do not think the Deputy would suggest that in advance of the legislation we set down proposals as to who will be dictated to, what they will do and how they will do it. That is not what this amendment is about and it would be wrong for us to get into that area of conversation, even today. We are purely considering the amendment of the Constitution as it relates to information. However, the Deputy should feel free to raise that matter again, as I am sure he will, when the legislation is before the House. It is not my intention to give a direction as to what Cura or any other organisation will or will not do. The legislation will be framed in such a way that the information we are talking about will be there, and any organisation who wishes to avail of the legislative frame work may do so. If they choose not to avail of it, so be it.

Despite the Chair's admonitions that we were slightly straying, I believe that this debate has been very helpful, certainly to me and I hope to the Ministers who will have the job of setting down the wording. The Minister, Deputy Flynn, said that the proposals may be published only in draft from before the referendum is put. Does he mean in draft legislation form or——

They will be draft proposals. The legislation cannot be published in advance of the amendment being endorsed.

The Taoiseach informed the House last week in answer to a question from me that the legislation would be published before the referendum.

I cannot comment on that, but in my Second Stage Contribution I was quite explicit in setting out the Government's position. The Minister for Health has already given an outline of the draft proposals in this regard. It would be inappropriate to publish legislation in advance of a decision being made by the people on this matter. We all seem to pre-empt the outcome of the referendum, and happily I go along with the vibes, but it is only after the referendum has been held, that we can publish the legislation.

Surely there is nothing wrong with publishing a proposal that the Government assumes the people will support. The Government should convince people of their arguments. I understood the Taoiseach to say last week that the draft legislation would be published in conjunction with the referendum proposals to show the Government's thinking on the matter. However, if the referendum is rejected the Government will have to think again. It is important to reflect on this aspect of the matter because the people deserves the widest possible information in advance of the question being put to them for a definitive reply.

One must not presume in this matter.

I would say to the two Ministers and the other Members of the House that one of the definitions of "information" in the Oxford Dictionary is "divine instruction or inspiration". Our job is to put down matters in black and white in legislation and we do not depend on divine inspiration.

A little bit of celestial assistance does not go astray in here.

As it is now 4.45 p.m. I am required to put the following question in accordance with the resolution of the Dáil of 21 October.

Is í an cheist "Leis seo, go n-aontaítear an Sceideal, an Réamhrá agus an Teideal agus dá réir sin go dtuairiscítear an Bille don Teach gan leasú, leis seo go gcríochnaítear Céim na Tuarascála agus leis seo go ritear an Bille."

The question is "That the Schedule, the Preamble and the Title are hereby agreed to and the Bill is, accordingly, reported to the House without amendment; that Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed", put and agreed to.

Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.

Question put and agreed to.