An Bille um an gCúigiú Leasú is Fiche ar an mBunreacht (Beatha Dhaonna le linn Toirchis a Chosaint), 2001: An Tuarascáil (Atógáil) agus an Chéim Dheiridh. Twenty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy) Bill, 2001: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage.

Atógadh an díospóireacht ar leasú a 1:
I leathanach 5, línte 14 go 22 a scriosadh.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
In page 4, to delete lines 14 to 20.
–(Deputy G. Mitchell).

Deputy Jim O'Keeffe is in possession.

Yesterday, I outlined some of the problems I had with the section we are now discussing. I now want to refer to a number of other aspects. I raise these issues because I passionately believe that our response to the issue of abortion should be to do something about the reality of abortion. That might sound odd, but it is not, because if we are considering any proposal on abortion – constitutional, legislative or otherwise – we have to determine whether it will do anything in the area of abortion and, in particular, crisis pregnancies. That is the first litmus test any proposal has to pass. Having gone through the all-party committee and studied its proposals, I genuinely do not believe the Minister's proposal will reduce the number of abortions by a single case. Does he believe it will have the desired effect of reducing the abortion rate? This is my major problem with the proposal. It is the reason I proposed at the all-party committee that we should focus on an action plan to deal with crisis pregnancies in a real attempt to reduce the num ber of abortions and at times bored my colleagues by later persisting with the view.

The litmus test for the proposal is whether it will do anything about crisis pregnancies. The answer is "no". Constitutional or legislative proposals cannot impact on abortions carried out in Ireland because there are none. When I proposed an action plan to deal with crisis pregnancies, my concern was that by focusing on legislative and constitutional measures we would divert attention and energy from the real problem, which is what happened. During the many hours discussing the new, detailed definitions of abortion and other matters there has been virtually no debate on how we might deal with crisis pregnancies.

At long last the Government has announced that a crisis pregnancy agency will be established. Since my original proposal to set up a crisis pregnancy agency 18 months ago, there have been 10,000 abortions, yet only now has the Government proposed to set up such an agency. This is a matter of concern. A proposal for such an agency is just the beginning. The real question is what will it do.

Although we examined the kind of preventative measures which should be introduced to discourage crisis pregnancies at the all-party committee, the current debate has not focused on the matter. The all-party committee heard some interesting evidence. There were genuine and major differences of view on prevention. Some people focused on contraception and its availability, while others felt the main emphasis should be on discouraging early sexual intercourse among the young population. This, again, has not been discussed here. If we are concerned about reducing the rate of abortion, we should discuss these kinds of issues. They are the real issues in the real world as far as abortion is concerned because there are, I repeat, no abortions in Ireland.

Our abortion rate is the 7,000 women and girls who travel to the UK every year. If we genuinely care about doing something about it, we should focus our attention on trying to introduce measures to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies in the first place, after which we should highlight the possibilities other than abortion available to those women who are in this vulnerable position. We should examine the newer forms of adoption and the financial and other supports which should be made available to pregnant women, none of which has been discussed.

Having done this, we should discuss the position of the 100,000 Irish girls and women who have had abortions in the past 20 years. They have been ignored from two points of view – their need for medical check ups and their need for counselling services. Have arrangements been made to deal with these matters?

These are the issues at the coalface as far as abortion is concerned. My plea to the Government and my colleagues is that we try to achieve consensus on the introduction of a strategy for dealing with crisis pregnancies as soon as poss ible. This is the only way we will impact on the rate of abortion. The alternative, a constitutional amendment and a constitutionally guaranteed Bill, will not impact on a single abortion. This raises several questions. Why has the Government chosen to adopt this approach? Why did it not address the issue of abortion long ago? Why was the crisis pregnancy agency not established when we first proposed it? Why was a proper strategy for the agency not among the real issues debated?

This is the last day the Bill will be before the Dáil. I make a final plea, even at this late stage in the dying hours of this dying Administration, to focus on this issue, which is the real issue with respect to abortion. I very much regret there has been such nominal reference to it during the debate.

I listened carefully to Deputy Jim O'Keeffe. I do not recall a Government spokesman claiming the legislationper se or the proposed amendment to the Constitution would deter anybody from seeking an abortion abroad. Side by side with the legislation there is a strategy being put in place. Deputy O'Keeffe is correct to state it should have been put in place by previous Governments. They should have dealt with the matter and we are all responsible and negligent to some extent in that the strategy has not been put in place until now. It is a useless exercise to look back in history. A strategy is being put in place. What we are discussing today is the Report Stage of legislation, which tries to make the law reflect what we think is the will of the people. That remains to be tested.

Last night, Deputy O'Keeffe stated there was much confusion among the public and many people do not seem to understand what the Government is doing. He is perfectly correct. This is not unusual with constitutional referenda. Many people will focus on the issues once the date has been set for the referendum and the campaign is under way. However, I respectfully put it to Deputy O'Keeffe and others that if we want to go on extending the legislation and inserting matters like defining the moment at which life begins, etc., that will be a recipe which will spread confusion from one end of the country to the other.

In so far as Deputy McManus's argument in relation to a possible conflict between Article 40.3.3º and Article 40.3.4º, I understand exactly where she is coming from, but her fears are groundless. As the Minister said, the two different Articles of the Constitution must be read together. It is a fundamental principle of interpretation of constitutional legislation that different Articles of the Constitution are presumed to be in harmony. If anybody wants to contend otherwise, the onus is on them to establish that there is genuine conflict and it is a very heavy onus to discharge.

In any case, there is no conflict between the two Articles, Article 40.3.3º and Article 40.3.4º, as I understand them. If I am reading the position correctly, the protection provided for both mother and child in Article 40.3.3º extends until the moment of implantation. From that moment on the appropriate protection is that provided in Article 40.3.4º and the proposed legislation which it underpins. It is not a question of two different Articles of the Constitution being in conflict in relation to a particular situation. The two different Articles—

What about suicide?

I will come to that.

I alert the Minister of State to the fact that if he addresses his remarks through the Chair rather than the Deputy, he will not invite interruptions.

The two different Articles of the Constitution apply to two different timeframes. Until the moment of implantation the law appropriate to both mother and child is that laid down in Article 40.3.3º, as interpreted by the Supreme Court. From the moment of implantation onwards it is the law laid down in Article 40.3.4º together with the legislation which it underpins.

To answer the hypothetical question which Deputy McManus raised, if I can recall the details properly, as to what happens after implantation, the position we are trying to establish – if this referendum is passed by the people and the legislation goes on the Statute Book, this will be the position – is that from the moment of implantation on, suicide is not a valid reason to seek a termination of a pregnancy and anybody who seeks and procures termination of a pregnancy on the basis she says she is suicidal will be liable and in breach of the legislation. The person will, in effect, be committing abortion as proposed in the legislation.

That is the position. I know it is a complex area. I do not want to over-simplify it in any way or do not want to be seen to seek to over-simplify it, but I decry the efforts of those who want to try to complicate it unnecessarily either because they have a different agenda. As I say, there is a fundamental principle of constitutional interpretation that different Articles of the Constitution are supposed to be read as if they are in harmony. If there are a number of possibly different interpretations, the interpretation which leads to one Article being in harmony with the other is the appropriate interpretation to take. Second, there is no conflict between Articles 40.3.3º and 40.3.4º because they apply to different situations.

The amendment we are discussing is amendment No. 1, which proposes to delete lines 14 to 20 on page four of the Bill. Those are the lines in the Bill which actually deal with the amendments which it is proposed to make to the Constitution which are set out in the First Schedule. The second and third parts of that proposed amendment are really the key ones as far as the activity of the House and the Oireachtas is concerned. The proposed second part of that amendment provides that if a law, containing only the provisions set out in this Bill, is enacted by the Oireachtas, this section, other than the amendment of Article 40 of the Constitution effected thereby, shall be omitted from every official text of the Constitution. The third part states that if such a law is not so enacted within 180 days of this section being added to the Constitution, this section shall cease to have effect.

That is the provision for what I have called a Bill within a Bill which is designed to tell the Oireachtas that in the event that a referendum on this issue is carried, then the Oireachtas can do only one of two things: it can either pass the Bill, the text of which we have here, or it can refuse to pass it.

If the amendment is carried, a Bill will come formally before the Houses of the Oireachtas. That Bill has, in its current draft, seven sections, and does a number of things to which I will come in a moment. The Oireachtas will be invited to consider it and decide to pass it as it stands or not to pass it. The Oireachtas will be told, "You can pass this or reject it, but you cannot amend it," on the basis that the people will have said, "We are voting on the basis that this Bill will be passed into law." That is a procedure which should not be entered into lightly. It is a procedure which we should avoid as far as possible. It is a procedure in which we do not need to engage in the context of the referendum about which we are talking.

We spoke about this in committee when I asked what would happen if the Oireachtas, duly invited to pass this Bill, in its wisdom decided not to do so within 180 days. The Oireachtas would be saying, "We do not agree with the people," but it would be doing its job. It would be doing something which is plainly envisaged as a possibility in the text of the proposed constitutional amendment because, as I have said, the third part of the amendment reads:

If such a law is not so enacted within 180 days of this section being added to this Constitution, this section shall cease to have effect . . .

Therefore it is envisaged, at least as a possibility, that the Oireachtas might decide to take a different view from that expressed by the people in the referendum and might decide not to pass that Bill.

I also speculated on Committee Stage on what the position might be if there is a referendum on this, if we ever get consensus on a date for it, if the Tánaiste comes to the conclusion that she agrees that there is enough consensus for the Government to specify a date about which there are many uncertainties, and it is followed in less than 180 days by a general election, which seems to be the likelihood. In that case, there will be a Dáil with a different composition and it might take a different view. Of course, on Committee Stage there was the following inevitable inane comment from a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, "Is Deputy Dukes threatening to do away with this if we have a general election?" Leaving aside the political smart-alec comments, there is a definite possibility, a certainty, that the next Dáil will have a different complexion in some ways from this one. It might take a different view on this issue and I would not be at all surprised to find that in the next Dáil there will be people on the Fianna Fáil benches who would take a different view from the one they are being whipped to take today.

I know that there are Members on the Fianna Fáil benches who hold a different view from the one that they are whipped to express on this issue and might find themselves in a position in the next Dáil where they might be free to state and act on it in this Chamber, but there are other possibilities. This Government, which hopes to put this through and envisages having a referendum, is one which is supported by four Independent Deputies. I gather some of the Independent Deputies are feeling rather tender about the way they think the Opposition feels about them. They should not worry too much because they are all regarded with a certain amount of warmth, but the fact of the matter is that they are all lining up solidly with the Government's position on this.

We may have more single issue candidates in the next Dáil. There is at least a possibility that a future Government could rely on the support of a number of Independent Deputies who could adopt a very different view from the current four honest, diligent, unswerving Government supporters. If such Deputies were to take the opposite view it could be impossible, even for a Government including Fianna Fáil, to pass this legislation. We would then find ourselves, having undergone this upheaval, being required to pass or reject this legislation. This is something the Oireachtas would be entitled to do but, if it were to happen, many people with whom I disagree would have voted in a particular way on this referendum and would rightly feel badly let down. We should not run the risk of this happening as it would not enhance the public's view of the political process.

I asked on Second and Committee Stages whether all of this was necessary and, although I waited for an answer, the Minister studiously avoided providing one. Does he consider this process to be the only way to deal with these complex issues? I do not, although there are those in the House who disagree with me. The Bill encompassed in the Bill to amend the Constitution includes a definition of abortion and provides for the granting of legal sanction to current medical practices in a particular area. It also contains an implicit legalisation of the morning after pill and IUDs and the overturning of the case law in the X-case, meaning the exclusion of suicidal intent as grounds for abortion. These are the issues the Oireachtas will be required to legislate for or reject in the event that this Bill is passed in its current form. Is this the only way of proceeding?

Section 1(1) of the Bill within the Bill defines abortion. That is not necessary in the context of a Bill on which the Oireachtas is presented with a Hobson's choice – pass it or junk it but do not amend it. If we want to define abortion, the simplest way of doing so is to amend the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861 in whatever way is considered necessary. The Government says that, for the purposes of dealing with the problem of abortion, we will define it as meaning the "intentional destruction, by any means, of unborn human life after implantation in the womb of a woman". If we were to amend the 1861 Act to substitute that definition for the references in that Act to procuring a miscarriage, we could apply the penalties provided for to abortion. The intention of this measure is really to bring that up to date and square it with what we now consider a proper definition of abortion.

In not one of the Government's responses to this issue has there been any systematic examination of why it would be wrong to achieve its objectives by amending the 1861 Act. I have not seen any analysis of what that would mean nor have I seen any conclusive demonstration that it would be in any way wrong, undesirable or difficult to proceed in that way. If we want to give the word "abortion" the meaning that is set out here, it would be simpler to return to the 1861 Act and write in the appropriate definition, instead of going through this rigmarole of constitutional and legislative action. The Government has not even considered that as an operational way of resolving this problem. I have my views as to why it has not and they do not reflect well on the Government.

The legalisation of the morning after pill and IUDs by this means is a by-product of that definition of abortion and the Government's grass has been cut on the morning after pill already because decisions have been made elsewhere that simply say that the types of morning after pill permitted are not abortifacients so we need not worry or consider them to be illegal. I assume the same logic applies to the IUD. I am not alone in the House in adopting this view. Many of us did not have to wait for expert medical opinion to give us that read on the morning after pill and IUDs. This legalisation, which the Government has made part of its case on this issue, is a by-product of the definition of abortion. To the extent that it was needed it would be secured, whichever way we went about making this definition of abortion operational, and it would follow for making the appropriate amendments to the 1861 Act. Those two objectives of this Bill within a Bill could be achieved by a simple, straightforward and easily comprehensible amendment of the 1861 Act without undergoing the constitutional and legislative mumbo-jumbo with which the Government has saddled us.

The third measure contained in section 1(2) of this Bill within a Bill proposes to give legal backing to current medical practices which have been described and debated at length by people who are far more competent than me. The Government is telling us that in order to reassure people that particular procedures, interventions or treatments, currently available and accepted as ethical, will continue to be legally available and accepted as ethical, we must insert this subsection into the Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Bill.

What does the Minister think this really means? We would not simply be giving legal backing and legal authority to the procedures and practices which exist today, we would be giving legal backing, sanction and foundation to whatever those practices might be at any given time during the legislation's existence. Will the Minister or the Members of the Oireachtas decide what those practices may be? The answer is "no". We would hand over the decision as to what is legal, ethical and permitted to another group of people, namely the doctors. No definition of procedures is provided. The reference is to the carrying out of a medical procedure by a medical practitioner. What we are saying, therefore, is that we will legalise whatever medical practitioners consider ethical and proper. I do not wish to disparage anyone or accuse them of bad faith, but this means that the Oireachtas is handing over its power to decide what is ethical in this area to people outside. That is of concern to many people.

We are not only saying that whatever is legal today will continue to be legal, but that whatever they decide at any moment should be legal and ethical is so and we will back them without question and without any power to influence or require consultation on the matter. That is an odd way to legislate. It might be more honest to have a subsection in the Bill that provides that whatever the IMO says, at any time, goes. That is not a criticism of the IMO but it can change its views. It did so earlier this year and that is fact. We are handing over the power to decide what is proper, ethical and legal to a group of people who are entitled to, and do, change their views from time to time. We are saying that whatever they decide is fine by us and we will give them legal backing for it. That is what this Bill does.

There is no point in the Minister of State shaking his head at me. He knows that I speak the truth. This does not give the Oireachtas any power to inspect what is being regarded as ethical or to modify it in any way.

Acting Chairman

I ask again that the Deputy speak through the Chair.

I have spoken through the Chair. What I said was that there is no point in the Minister shaking his head at me. The Chair has almost put me off my train of thought.

Acting Chairman

That would be very difficult to do.

The fact is that both the Minister and the Minister of State know that what I am saying is true because there—

I take it the Deputy means the Medical Council when he says the IMO.

Yes, I mean the Medical Council. There is nothing here that gives the Oireachtas any power to come back and question what the Medical Council says or to recommend that it does anything different. At any point in time this says, in effect, that what the Medical Council says goes. I am not criticising the Medical Council, but the Legislature should not do that.

Two of the Bill's proposals, as mentioned, can be dealt with by simple, straightforward and comprehensible amendments of the 1861 Act. The third requires more thought than the Government has given it here. It would be preferable to have a provision that gave the Oireachtas some role in deciding what these practices should be. If we go to the trouble of having a constitutional amendment on the issue and of writing into the amendment the requirement that the Oireachtas pass a law about it, then it is important enough for the Oireachtas to want to stay part of the decision process and any future changes. It would be much more desirable to make a provision that would give the Oireachtas some ongoing association with decisions. I do not know what that association might be but it is certainly not this provision, dragged in by a constitutional amendment with an invitation to the Oireachtas to agree or disagree with the people. That is not the way to deal with it.

The fourth proposal in this complex paper is the deletion of the existence of suicidal intent as a ground for an abortion. That is the effect of those few words in lines 15 and 16 on page 8 of the Bill. It speaks of procedures that, in the reasonable opinion of the practitioner, are necessary to prevent a real and substantial risk of loss of the woman's life "other than by self-destruction". Those four words are the key to this and they are why we are here. What the Government wants to do is to satisfy the judgment given by the courts in the X case. We are having a referendum that deals with all these issues, the Bill within a Bill, the definition of abortion, the morning after pill, IUDs and legislation for the protection of current medical practices. It is not because we want to do only those things or because we want to do them in an efficient, clear and transparent way, but because the Government wants to row back the decision of the Supreme Court in the X case. We should not do that but the Government clearly takes a different view.

It would have been more desirable and much clearer if the Government said plainly that it wanted to row back the X case and it needed a constitutional amendment to do it. I agree that a constitutional amendment is needed to do it. The debate would have been clearer and there would have been less argument and hassle if the Government had decided to do it. However, the Government has decided to have this Bill within a Bill and I know why. The Government wanted to have a referendum on rowing back the X case. It is pandering to people who take the same view and who have said consistently since 1981 that they do not trust legislators. They know it would not be enough to have that little piece in the Constitution that says we row back the X case because they do not trust what the Government might do afterwards. They need to follow up on it so the Government, supinely and cravenly, agreed that it is not trustworthy and decided to put what it will do into the constitutional amendment also to prevent a change of mind afterwards. If it changes its mind, it will be seen to go against the expressed will of the people.

A Government that takes that view and brings before the Oireachtas legislation designed to bind its hands, just because it accepts the proposition of people who do not trust politicians, deserves to be thrown out of office immediately. It is a Government that is giving in and pandering to an opinion that is not justified. I will not make a liar of myself and say that I have absolute trust in the Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats Government and I will not insult anybody by picking them out. I am never sure it will do what it says it will do, but I am prepared to debate with it in the House and I do not require it to bind itself with oaths, promises or constitutional amendments of this kind. Those who say they do not trust the politicians to get it right are the people who consistently, spectacularly, and with every confidence, have got it wrong since 1981. They are the people who told us in 1981 and 1982 that a simple form of words as an amendment to the Constitution would rid us of this problem for ever. They produced a situation where what was clear before, because we had only the 1861 Act, became unclear. Without that wording in the Constitution, which they said would put this problem beyond our ken forever, we could not have had the court judgment in the X case.

Now they realise that they got it wrong and come again with the same certainty that they have it right and that we cannot be trusted. In fact, although I pay no unnecessary or excessive compliments to the present Government, this House has a better record of getting things right and a better mechanism for mending things that go wrong than those who urge us to bind ourselves with this measure. The Oireachtas has the power to amend legislation. It can examine its effects and, if it is not having the desired effect, it can amend it. However, the Government proposes to deprive the Oireachtas of the ability to re-examine this matter if, in the future, we find it does not have the intended effect since any change can only happen through referendum.

The Government seeks to tie the hands of the Oireachtas and prevent it from doing something that parliaments have an obligation to do, and that, by and large, they show themselves capable of doing. One can easily think of cases where legislation passed by this House has had a different effect from that wanted and so has been amended. The Minister knows what I am talking about. He even proposes amendments at this Stage, which illustrates that he is still thinking and modifying his approach to this measure and the Bill's provisions to match more closely his intentions. As that is so, why does he seek to bind our hands and prevent the Oireachtas from having a power that a Parliament should always have and seek to retain? There are issues that must be referred to the people under the Constitution and it is right that they should be, but the Oireachtas should not surrender its constitutional power, prerogatives and duties to anyone else.

The guillotine will come down today and I have a terrible image of Deputy O'Dea sitting with his knitting needles at its foot watching the blade come down, chop chop, at each Stage of this debate. However I will not go into that as the mind boggles. It would be horror writ large.

He cannot knit.

I could make a comment on that which the Deputy might not like.

Before the guillotine falls, the Minister should tell us why he believes we cannot enact three of the four measures contained here by legislation properly passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas elected by the people under the Constitution to do so, and to leave the one constitutional issue to be put separately to the people. Why does the Minister set his face against the ordinary legislative procedure and instead complicate measures with this Bill within a Bill? It is unnecessary and the Minister has not given one reason for doing it. Because it is so complicated, the Minister will get a verdict from the people – if he can agree a date with the Tánaiste to hold the referendum – which says that this is as clear as a bush and they will not have it. That will be a good day's work by them.

(Dublin West): I deplore strongly the time constraints placed on the discussion of the Bill. I regret that I was not involved in the Committee Stage, but others did well in pointing out the many flaws in the Bill, its repugnant nature and its inconsistencies. The guillotine today will not allow discussion to be brought to a proper conclusion. The Government ought to consider amending or withdrawing the Bill. It should have learned lessons from the history of sensitive issues dealt with by the crude mechanism of a constitutional amendment.

I support Deputy Gay Mitchell's amendment which seeks the deletion of lines 14 to 20 on page four, which refers to the contents of page seven, Cuid a hAon as Gaeilge, and Part Two in English. There is a clear conflict between Article 40.3.3º and the proposed Article 40.3.4º in this provision. This conflict may return to haunt the Government and it should think again if it believes this is the end of litigation on this matter.

Deputy O'Dea accuses some of us of complicating the issue for our own agendas, but, unfortunately for him, it is reality and the experience of life that complicate the issue. Cases which arose and convulsed this State were unforeseen before 1983. Those who argued that difficult situations could arise were rubbished then and accused of complicating the issue but life vindicated them. The Government's constitutional amendment, particularly Article 40.3.4º, gives an embryo a greater right than the woman carrying it. Inevitably, its conflict with Article 40.3.3º will have consequences. It is clear that this legislation, to rule out the danger of suicide as grounds for legal termination, is in direct contravention of what is already in the Constitution.

Down the line the Government will be seen not to have done what it set out to do with this legislation. It is reprehensible that it brings forward this legislation simply to close an opening made by a judgment of the Supreme Court and does so for nakedly political reasons. That is the fundamental reason that this Bill is being brought before us now.

There is a huge dishonesty in the Bill; it is built on dishonesty. It is built on the attempt to pervert language as an expression of reality, an honest expression of what exists in life. Therefore in the Bill the abortion of a foetus made necessary by the illness of a pregnant woman and in order to save her life does not become an abortion at all. It is a fundamentally dishonest proposal which allows the Government to bring forward and implement some guarantees it gave to certain minority sections of society in its own political interests.

Hammering into the Constitution the type of legislation provided for here and in Part 2 is a crude mechanism. It is an extremely inflexible way to deal with issues that will continue to develop as society and the attitudes and ideas of people develop. Having something frozen in the Constitution is not the way to deal with issues that are developing on an ongoing basis. There is no doubt that the attitude of the people with regard to the right of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy has shifted massively in the course of recent decades and will shift further in the future as the experience of life is taken more into account by them. Here the Government wants to insert something into the Constitution in order to pickle and copperfasten it rather than dealing with these matters through legislation which can be reformed and amended and brought up to date in line with experience and the views of the people.

The Government strategy is a political one which, unfortunately, will come apart. It is taking what it believes to be the so-called middle ground and the strategy is to appeal to it and the minorities opposed to a woman's right to choose and in this way gain some crude political advantage in the run-up to the general election. The Government hopes in this way to copperfasten for itself a few percentage points that might make the difference between being in or out of government after the election. It has nothing to do with the interests of women, justice for women or women's rights or any moral question; it is crude political expediency which is designed to make the pro-choice section of society seem extreme. This is a favourite Government tactic to attempt to cast as extremists those who stand for the right of women to choose to terminate a pregnancy. It is not an extreme position to respect the right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy; it is the experience of thousands of Irish women who do so every year. It is insulting to deal with the issue in this manner by, in effect, continuing to marginalise the women concerned in the way that this legislation and the Government strategy do.

I will finish by drawing attention to the extreme political difficulties that the Government is going to face on this matter in the months ahead. I predict that its political strategy will come apart at the seams. For example, what will the Catholic Church state in regard to this legislation? There are a number of issues in the Bill which are fundamentally repugnant to Catholic teaching. The post-coital pill and the intra-uterine device are utterly repugnant to Catholic teaching. Will the Catholic Church, as it has a right to do for its own believers, state publicly that no Catholic should support this legislation because it is enshrining contraceptive practices that it fundamentally opposes? Where will that leave the Government with its consensus and attempt to keep the middle ground? Will the Catholic Church be dishonest and keep quiet on the matter on the basis that this is an enshrinement of its position and a step towards further restrictions on women's rights in these matters?

The Catholic Church will be dishonest if it stays quiet on this issue. The logic of the debate may well be that the Government will face the same problem that it faced with the Nice treaty. It could come a cropper through a similar alignment of voting by disparate groups: those who are fundamentally in favour of a woman's right to choose and those who are morally opposed to any concession to either a morning after pill or any form of termination whatsoever. What will the Government do if the main Church on the island opposes the Bill? Will it then press on with the referendum?

It is shameful legislation which criminalises women by tagging a penalty of 12 years in prison onto any woman who would attempt to self-administer a termination of pregnancy. It flies in the face of all the words of alleged compassion coming from the Minister for Health and Children and the Taoiseach who when he launched the Bill spoke about the thousands of sad stories of women travelling abroad to avail of terminations. He said they must be listened to and appreciated. Instead the Government proposes 12 years imprisonment for those who would choose, perhaps out of desperation, to self-administer a termination in the State. That is quite incredibly uncaring and lacking in compassion. It is a marginalisation of the tens of thousands of women who have availed of termination of pregnancy. It keeps them on the margins and ignores their stories and does so for political expediency. The State should not interfere in this matter other than to see that people's health is protected and proper procedures are in place in cases where women decide they have to choose to terminate a pregnancy. That is the reality the State will have to face. It would have had to face it long ago if it were not for the convenient back door of pagan England being there. If Irish women were dying in the back streets as a result of back street abortions, which would have been forced on them if Britain were not there, the law in this country would have been changed long ago because there would be a clamour to change it. Even people with a moral difficulty who would never choose abortion for themselves would have to recognise that right should exist for the people caught up in those circumstances. It is a bad day's work and I oppose the passing of this Bill.

I will try to avoid repeating things already covered by other speakers. It is regrettable this debate is taking place today. The Government has taken an extraordinary measure. It has ordered a constitutional referendum Bill and then tried to constrain and design the debate within the Houses of the Oireachtas in a manner that is practically guaranteed to ensure minimum public knowledge of what happens here and as little reportage as possible.

We had a Committee Stage that had practically no coverage in the national press, other than, I think,The Irish Times, which gave it some small coverage. There were no particular references to it on national news bulletins. We have a guillotine debate today, budget day, when, as the Government is well aware, the only reportage from this House in any of tomorrow's papers or any of the news bulletins from 5 o'clock onwards will be the budget debate. This is an extraordinary way to try to ensure information is available to the general public to understand the issues involved, should this matter be put to the people. It is an even more extraordinary way to try and secure what was described as political consensus on all sides of the House. In my time in this House, I have not seen any referendum issue dealt with in this way and it is an extraordinary way to approach this.

Deputy Dukes was right when he said there is no need for a constitutional referendum to enact the Bill other than the fact that the Bill envisaged excludes the X case principles. It seeks to ensure that, should a pregnant woman or teenage girl be suicidal, she cannot effect a termination of her pregnancy in this State. That is the sole issue of substance that requires a referendum. This is an action replay of the 1992 referendum, dressed up in different clothing. I would have more respect for the Government if it honestly reproduced the 1992 proposal and said it disagreed with the outcome of that referendum. It should have said it had a moral view that this is the way the law should be changed and it was willing to debate that in public.

There was no mention of that in any speeches.

That is not the view. Deputy Joe Higgins is right. This is legislation born out of political expediency and conceived in a smoked filled back room—

It was not smoke filled.

—in the presence of four Independent Deputies who have not the courage to participate in any aspect of this debate here. The four Independents were not seen on Committee or Report Stages. They are back in hiding. Is it a voluntarily imposed hiding or is it another example of the Government Whip kidnapping Independent Deputies and ensuring they are kept out of the House so they do not suffer public foot in mouth disease that could result in removing any credibility, which might be left with this measure, by, for example, the type ofexposé in which Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae might engage?

We should not be doing this exercise. We should approach this issue with considerably more honesty. On Committee Stage, I raised an issue on which I received no coherent or straightforward reply from the Minister. We are dressing up this debate and discussing whether it is acceptable that a pregnancy may or may not be terminated in circumstances where the pregnant woman or teenage girl is suicidal. In most instances where there is a possibility someone may be suicidal as a result of a pregnancy, it is where pregnancy is a consequence of rape or incest. We should not talk of that issue in the context of suicide. It is time to recognise in a mature way if a woman or young girl is the victim or rape or incest and becomes pregnant, it is an additional cruelty to deny the victim the right to decide if she wants to maintain that pregnancy. We are saying we will force her to maintain it in this country but if she wants to get on a plane and go abroad, she may be allowed to terminate the pregnancy.

I raised the challenge to the Minister, if his wife or daughter were the victim of rape and pregnant, would he like to have available to her the facility to terminate that pregnancy. This is a straightforward question. How many Government Deputies, who support this Bill and who found their wife, daughter, niece or neighbour's child was pregnant as a consequence of rape, would say she should not have her pregnancy terminated here? Fortuitously, England is only next door so she could get on a plane if she wishes, but in Ireland we will not allow this whether she is suicidal or not. In a more mature society we would recognise there are circumstances in which we should more honestly discuss this issue. This Bill is purely about reversing the consequences of the X case and the way in which this debate has been ordered is designed to delimit the contributions the Members of this House can make.

I am conscious there are other Members who want to speak and I do not intend to raise all the issues I raised either on Second or Committee Stages. However, I draw the Minister's attention to yet another anomaly in this legislation, which has been worked upon by the Government for four and a half years and over which the Minister wants to stand. He now recognises it needs amendment and there are four ministerial amendments tabled for today.

It has another peculiarity to which nobody has yet referred. The Bill the Dáil will chose to enact or reject, following a referendum, if the referendum is passed, contains section 6. This section says: "Sections 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act, 1861, are hereby repealed". If the Bill is enacted, the effect of that provision is to immediately repeal those sections. What does that mean? It means if someone is being prosecuted for an unlawful termination by usage of the provisions under the Offences against the Person Act, at the time when this Bill is enacted, that prosecution has to cease and anyone who has carried out an unlawful abortion in this State, prior to the enactment of this Bill, is given by this Minister a legislative and constitutional amnesty. This is something to which no one has yet referred. We have had the tax amnesty, now we will have an amnesty granted to those people with whom the Minister says he wants to deal, people who may carry out unlawful abortions.

On a number of occasions as justice spokesperson for Fine Gael and in other capacities, I have seen many criminal law Bills discussed in this House. If a new criminal offence is replacing an old one, a criminal law Bill will usually contain a section, which is a preservation provision. This preserves in being the law as it was at the time when the Bill was enacted in respect of outstanding offences, for which prosecutions have been initiated. Section 6 does not do that. If the referendum succeeds and the Bill is enacted by both Houses of the Oireachtas and a person is charged with the offence of carrying out an unlawful termination under the Offences Against the Person Act, the signing of the Bill by the President will grant an amnesty to those people. The criminal offence of which they have been charged will be struck out.

That is not true.

If the Minister of State disagrees with me, I invite him to look at the extradition legislation with which the Select Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights dealt recently and which had to be amended by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to ensure it did not, upon becoming law, retrospectively remove the possibility of individuals in respect of whom extradition applications have already been made being given an amnesty from being extradited to other jurisdictions.

It is not the same thing.

The saving provision which is normally found in a criminal measure is not in the Bill. It is yet another example of how in trying to deal with a complex area in a constitutional manner the Government is making a major and serious error which will give rise to consequences it did not anticipate.

That is another red herring.

We have had this debate on Committee Stage and now again on Report Stage. My purpose in tabling the amendment was to allow the debate to take place in the House because Members outside the committee did not have an opportunity to attend in large numbers on Committee Stage. I am aware that other Deputies want to speak and I am anxious to move on to the next amendment to give them the opportunity to do so. Because of the way Report Stage works, Deputies do not get that opportunity. I will not press the amendment to a vote.

Am I allowed to speak?

Carlow-Kilkenny): No. The debate has officially ended.

I can respond to the points in the debate on the next amendment.

It is a pity time is short.

I want to refute a point made by Deputies Dukes, Jim O'Keeffe, O'Dea, Joe Higgins and Shatter and a number of speakers yesterday. We have had a Second Stage debate this morning. There has not been any attempt to discuss each amendment separately, which is fair enough. I have heard all the points, with the exception of one or two, on Second and Committee Stages. The points made by Deputy Jim O'Keeffe about the crisis pregnancy agency are valid. We did not say at the outset that the legislation would deal with the issue of crisis pregnancies or abortion. The establishment of a crisis pregnancy agency is the mechanism to do that. We have taken on board the recommendations of the all-party committee on that issue. We have provided £5 million for 2002 for expenditure to assist women in crisis pregnancies, to provide education and other programmes to seek to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies and to assist women who may have had abortions in England in terms of post-abortion counselling. We are dealing with that in a comprehensive manner. Those issues were raised by Deputy Jim O'Keeffe.

Deputy Dukes made a number of points. I have difficulty with some of them, including the point that the Oireachtas should have a role in deciding when the life of the mother should be saved via medical procedures. He wants the Oireachtas to have a role in terms of what medical procedures may be entered into by medical practitioners to save the life of a mother in the event of a real and substantial risk to her life. I disagree with the idea that such a significant body of people could have that type of specific role. That is wrong and entirely inappropriate. We cannot have the Oireachtas second guessing the type of actions and interventions medical doctors must make in such situations on a daily or weekly basis. It is an untenable point. We are not handing it over to the Medical Council.

Time is short and other Members wish to speak. That is why I brought the debate on my amendment to a conclusion.

The points were made.

The Minister should give us more time.

That is an example of why the debate should not be guillotined.

The Opposition is only filibustering.

We are not filibustering.

Acting Chairman

Allow the Minister to finish his last sentence.

The procedures in place in the Bill are exactly the same as those for the divorce referendum which the Opposition introduced when it was in Government.

That was done by agreement. This mechanism was not used before.

Tarraingíodh siar an leasú, faoi chead.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Acting Chairman

Amendment No. 2. Amendments Nos. 6, 7, 9 and 31 are cognate. Amendments Nos. 2, 6, 7, 9 and 31 may be discussed together by agreement.

Tairgim leasú a 2:

I leathanach 5, líne 26, "agus Forálacha Eile" a chur isteach i ndiaidh "Dhaonna".

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, line 24, after "Life" to insert "and Other Provisions".

I moved on to this amendment deliberately to allow other Deputies to speak because I want the record to show that Deputies, who have spoken on Report Stage, cannot get back in. I understand Deputies McManus, Barnes, Owen, Fitzgerald and Timmins may wish to speak, so I will be brief to give everyone an opportunity because the debate will be guillotined in 25 minutes.

The amendment seeks to rename the Bill by inserting "and Other Provisions". The reason I tabled it is to draw the public's attention to the fact that it is not only about the protection of human life in pregnancy, but about reintroducing the criminal offence of abortion. It would not be as specified in the 1861 Act, namely, to assist in procuring a miscarriage, but would be the destruction of unborn human life after implantation. There are also a number of other provisions. I do not intend to spend a long time discussing this point because I did so on Committee Stage. The Minister will have the power to designate approved places where these terminations, which are not called abortions, can take place. There is the definition of what is a medical practitioner, which the Minister had to define and redefine between Committee and Report Stages. There is also a reasonable opinion being formed in good faith by a doctor and a definition of a woman. One provision about which I am dissatisfied, although the Minister introduced amendments to meet my concerns, is that the Minister will have power by order in the future to vary the effect of a constitutional amendment. I have serious misgivings about that and I have included safeguards in the amendments I tabled.

Since the Minister is anxious to respond to the debate, I ask him to address one of my amendments. In the definition section, the other provisions to which I referred, there is no definition as to when life begins. I tabled an amendment to ask the Minister to deal with that. The unborn should be defined as human life which begins at conception. Perhaps when the Minister responds he could tell us if he is prepared to accept that amendment and include it in the definition section. Many people outside the House will be interested to hear that, since this will be read with Article 40.3.3º, the unborn is not defined. Since the Minister is including implantation, perhaps it would not be any harm if a definition of the unborn was included in the definition section. If the Minister is not prepared to do that, will he tell the House why? If the Minister does not answer that question, it will show on the record and the people will make their own deductions. It is a reasonable amendment and I hope the Minister will find it possible to accept it. I will not delay the House because other Deputies want to speak. I want a specific reference to that in the Minister's reply. It will be important to many people if and when they consider the Bill in a referendum.

As we are concerned about the record of the House, I want to put something clearly on it. During the debate on the previous amendment Deputy Shatter referred to section 6 and said we were, in effect, giving a legal and constitutional amnesty to anybody who committed an abortion and was being prosecuted under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997, as and from the moment this Bill is signed into law. Section 21(1)(d) of the Interpretation Act, 1937, which is still law, provides that where an Act of the Oireachtas repeals the whole or a portion of a previous statute, then, unless the contrary intention appears, such repeal shall not:

(d) affect any penalty, forfeiture or punishment incurred in respect of an offence against or contravention of the statute or portion of a statute so repealed which was committed before such repeal, or

Section 21(1)(e) states that where an Act of the Oireachtas repeals the whole or a portion of a previous statute, then, unless the contrary intention appears, such repeal shall not:

prejudice or affect any legal proceedings, civil or criminal, pending at the time of such repeal in respect of any such right, privilege, obligation, liability, offence, or contravention as aforesaid.

Section 21(2) makes the principle crystal clear.

Why was that not the case with the Extradition (European Union Conventions) Bill, 2001?

Deputy Shatter is wrong. He is supposed to be a leading lawyer who must know the law.

He is a leading lawyer.

He is not supposed to be, he is.

If he is, he is even more blameworthy. If he is such an expert, he knows that what he is saying is directly contrary to the facts and contrary to the law. This is typical of the sort of dishonest filibuster to which we have been treated since this debate started.

Acting Chairman

The Minister of State cannot cast aspersions on members of the legal profession. He is a member of it himself.

Can he not do so even if they are politicians?

Acting Chairman

Deputy O'Dea is not dealing with the amendment.

At the beginning of Committee Stage I recommended that the Minister retain a constitutional lawyer to inform the debate. I did not realise the Government was in such trouble and difficulty about this referendum until it produced the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science, Deputy O'Dea, to deputise for a constitutional lawyer.

The Deputy is a supercilious know-all.

It is my turn to speak.

The champion of the poor is a supercilious, upper middle class know-all.

Will the Chairman protect me from this unruly Minister of State who does not know when to stop?

Acting Chairman

Deputy McManus has the floor.

Can the Deputy be allowed to respond on behalf of women?

I ask that the Minister of State withdraws his description of me as upper middle class. He should be accurate if he is going to talk about anything.

The Deputy should put down a motion of censure.

That is not funny.

I wonder if I can have the Minister of State's permission to address the House on an issue which does not relate to those of the male gender, but has direct relevance to females whose lives are threatened by this Government's proposal. I support the amendment tabled by Deputy Gay Mitchell on those grounds.

Far from legislating for the protection of human life in pregnancy, the central purpose of this Bill is to ensure there is a withdrawal of the protection of life of suicidal women during pregnancy. The Taoiseach gave a misleading impression to the House when he quoted Dr. Ken Whitaker, chairman of the expert review committee on the Constitution. Dr. Whitaker in his role as chairman of that committee and in his personal testimony indicated very clearly that he did not support the constitutional referendum as a way of dealing with this very difficult and complex issue. He put forward a set of proposals for legislation that would deal with the difficult issues and provide for the cases of suicidal women. He felt absolutely confident that this could be done. He said that if a referendum is decided, the wording will need the most careful consideration. There should be as few adjectives and adverbs as possible because their meaning is arguable. "Induced", "indirect", and "intentional" are examples. I have looked at the very complex Bill that has been put forward by the Government and have found, at random, other adjectives that could cause similar problems, for example, "in particular", "intended", "appropriate", "medical" and "reasonable", as in "reasonable opinion". The advice of Dr. Whitaker has been totally ignored by the Government.

The Taoiseach was also misleading in his statement this morning when he seemed to think, wrongly, that allowing mental illness or mental conditions to be considered where there was a risk to the life of the mother would automatically open the floodgates to easy availability of abortions. There are two examples very close to home which he needs to consider in that regard. Here in the Republic of Ireland the right of a suicidal woman whose life is at risk, to have an abortion, has been enshrined in the Constitution since 1992 and there has been no opening of the floodgates. The other example is that of Northern Ireland where abortions are carried out in those circumstances and where no floodgates have opened either.

I will take the few minutes I am allowed due to the time constraints to acknowledge the travesty of this morning's proceedings and the guillotining of Committee Stage. I also take the opportunity to point out the repetition of mistakes we have made since 1983 and which we will continue to make.

Mark my words, this legislation will come back to haunt us. As legislators we will be even less able to do anything about it because of the way we are being marginalised and sidelined. We will not be allowed to amend the legislation as the need arises due to Supreme Court interpretations or scientific progress which we cannot even begin to anticipate. We cannot separate one from the other. Arising from the Supreme Court's interpretation of the law in the tragic X case of 1992, the only objective of this legislation and the proposed constitutional amendment is to stop a suicide threat to the life of the mother during pregnancy being grounds for an abortion. The Bill raises huge problems with regard to cases in the future which follow the pattern in the C case. The C case was decided on the risk of suicide by a young girl who was in the care of a health board. The health board was an agency which was allowed to assist her to travel to terminate her pregnancy.

If this proposal is passed and suicide is ruled out as a threat to the life of a pregnant woman, the basis for the C case decision is removed and a young woman in that position could not be assisted to travel abroad. This Bill provides that a person will have the right to travel abroad, but if that is challenged it will be found that an agency does not have the right. The consequences of that are very serious. The tragic circumstances in which such a challenge will be made will plunge this country back into the shaming and embarrassing marginalising of women that was the result of the 1983 referendum. It is appalling that in 2001 there are so few women Members of this House and the Seanad to speak on behalf of the women on which this legislation will directly impose. I am depressed that in 2001 the status, power and authority of women in their most intimate and fundamental right to be mothers and nurturers is once again being distrusted, legislated on and criminalised.

I would have more admiration for the Minister if he said what is involved in the legislation. That is why Deputy Mitchell's amendment is so important. This is not just about the protection of human life but also about many other matters. It is flawed in that Article 40.3.4 which the Minister proposes to insert does not restate the equal right to life of the mother which is stated in the preceding subsection. I do not care how much harmonious interpretation the Minister, whose words they are, believes there will be of these subsections being inserted in the Constitution. He has created a legal quagmire.

Article 15.2 gives the Oireachtas the sole right to pass legislation. The Minister is taking that away from us in the sense that we do not have a choice in the type of legislation we can pass in this instance. He should tell the people that, even if the amendment is passed, there is no obligation on the Oireachtas to pass the legislation. It is like quicksilver – now you see it, now you do not. The Minister should be honest with the people and say this may not give those who want this referendum what they want because the Oireachtas may not pass the legislation, in which event the amendment will fall.

It is not I who say the Minister is not trying to do what is right but is trying to achieve consensus. That is what he said in his speech. He said we have considered ways not of doing the right thing but of moving forward in a way which can command the respect and support of the people. The less said about what the Progressive Democrats have done in this the better, especially given that they have abandoned women in this way despite having a woman leader and a woman Minister. They are not concerned about whether this is the right thing. They just say it reaches out to the consensus of the middle ground and has the capacity to garner the support of reasonably minded people. It is not a case of reaching out to ensure they do the right thing by pregnant women who might be suicidal or who do not want their pregnancies.

If there is to be a harmonious interpretation of this part of the Constitution, what will a judge make of Article 40.3.2 which states: "The State shall, in particular, by its laws protect as best it may from unjust attack and, in the case of injustice done [such as a girl who is made pregnant through rape and is suicidal] vindicate the life, person, good name, and property rights of every citizen", when the next two sections state that this cannot be done in the case of a woman or girl being allowed to have an abortion if she is suicidal because the right has been removed in this instance? The Minister by his actions will be the author of a situation no one argued for or demanded. This is what happened in 1983. On his head be it if he puts this amendment to the people because he is not being honest with them as to its intent.

It is a disgrace for a constitutional lawyer to sit beside the Minister and not argue with him as we do. He is small-minded and mean if he does not tell the Minister that this will be interpreted in a manner which is wrong.

What is the Deputy talking about?

The Minister of State should not throw his hands up. For the little time he has given to this, he does not deserve to be here.

I stand corrected by counsellor Owen.

I am not a counsellor. I do not need to be.

I agree with colleagues who said it is disgraceful the manner in which the Government is handling this. The Taoiseach's fine words this morning are contradicted by the way the Government has handled this legislation, by guillotining it on Committee Stage and in the House today. I understand why the Government does this, because this is legislation of which it should be ashamed because it is anti-woman, insensitive, hypocritical and politically driven. There is no doubt it reduces protection for women in Ireland. I wish we had time to debate it in more detail so that the message could get out more clearly, and I hope it does in coming weeks. I also hope women and their partners, husbands or boyfriends will see the legislation for what it is. It is anti-woman and distinguishes between mental and physical health. It reduces the protection women have in Ireland, especially if they are suicidal. The Government is using a most extraordinary mechanism which has never been used before to do this.

The Minister said things on Committee Stage which amounted to an admittance that he did not have the courage to bring legislation to the House and open it up to proper discussion and give it the necessary time for that.

That is not what I said.

Why did the Deputy's party not introduce legislation?

I wish to raise another aspect of this with the Minister and I mentioned this on Committee Stage. The Taoiseach said this morning that the choice is between this referendum or abortion on demand. That is ridiculous. No one is talking about abortion on demand. We are talking about detailed legislation and trying to deal with a difficult situation where everyone wants to see a reduction in the numbers of women having abortions. The legislation does not deal with those women. It says they are repugnant to the Constitution. That is the message the Government is giving the 7,000 women who travelled to England this year for an abortion. They are criminalised in the legislation.

A number of Members queried the 12 year jail sentence and the Minister answered that on Committee Stage by saying it was already in the old legislation. That is not the point. He is bringing in what he calls new, modern and appropriate legislation to deal with a social issue and yet women are being criminalised with 12 years as the sentence. That is no way to deal with an issue such as this. The Constitution is no place to deal with it either. Almost no country in the world deals with this issue in a constitution. That is not the place to deal with it because it is much too complex. We do not have any idea what type of case law this will give rise to.

A number of Members said there is a contradiction between Article 40.3.3 and Article 40.3.4, that they are different and will be interpreted as such. The Minister said that, when read together, they will be seen as harmonious. In fact, there is a significant difference in the definitions of unborn and in the protection of women in both subsections. They are contradictory and I have no doubt that, when they go before the Supreme Court, that will be seen.

I wish to raise another issue relating to mental health. Why will we be the only country in the European Union where women's mental health will not be protected? I quoted the statistics and information from the Green Paper on this. Every other country takes account of women's mental health in its legislation and we are doing the exact opposite. Why should we do that? What is reasonable or middle ground about excluding women's mental health as a consideration? How can any right-minded person say mental health can be excluded and say it is reasonable and middle ground and that the whole person or the whole situation or psychological trauma a woman may face is being taken into account?

What about the different countries? Does Austria protect the mental health of women in pregnancy where there is felt to be a risk to her life? The answer is yes. Does Belgium? The answer is yes. Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Northern Ireland and Sweden also preserve women's mental health. What is so different about Irish women? The United Kingdom does so in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. What is so different about the mental health of Irish women from that of their EU counterparts that it should be dealt with in this extraordinary, super-constitutional way? Why is this differentiation being included? What is reasonable and middle ground about excluding mental health? I asked on Committee Stage what a reasonable mother or father would want for their 14 year old child if she were pregnant as a result of rape or incest and were suicidal. Does the Minister think they would want to consider a variety of options for her without being criminalised by the Constitution? I believe they would.

In the C case there was a nexus between the determination on mental health and the right to travel. That is gone.

It is not. The C case is covered in legislation and the Deputy knows that.

It is not covered.

That is what we got in 1983. There is a nexus in the judgment of Mr. Justice Geoghegan in the C case between a self destruction element, which derives from the X case, and the right to travel. If that nexus is broken we could have another case identical to the C case.

The Deputy knows the C case is covered. That was dealt with on Committee Stage.

No. There is a nexus.

That is exactly what we got in 1983.

It is covered in section 4.

On a point of order, will the Minister tell the House if he is accepting any amendments, before we take the vote?

On a point of order, I want to give the lie to one theory. The Minister and many Government spokespersons have stated that adequate time has been given to this Bill. For personal reasons I was not here for the first two weeks and could not contribute to the debate on Second Stage. I could not contribute to Report Stage today, either, although I genuinely wanted to.

Is the Minister accepting my amendments?

As regards the amendments moved since the debate commenced, I brought forward my own amendment refining the definition of "medical practitioner". The omission of the word "council" from a range of actions which will constitute a breach of the envisaged legislation was also accepted on Committee Stage. I also tabled an amendment adding a requirement that in order for a ministerial order to be made, it must first be the subject of a positive resolution.

Acting Chairman

I am sorry, Minister, but we do not want explanations.

I am out of order, I apologise.

Can I take it the Minister is not accepting any of my amendments?

Acting Chairman

Is the Minister accepting the amendments? You have given reasons but are you accepting them?

No, I am just letting the Deputy know my position.

This is an absolute farce.

Is the Minister accepting any of my amendments?

No further amendments, no.

Acting Chairman

Ós rud é go bfhuil sé a leathuair tar éis a haon, ní foláir dom an cheist seo a leanas a chur de réir Ordú an lae seo ón Dáil: "Go ndéantar leis seo ar an mBille na leasuithe a chuir an tAire Sláinte agus Leanaí, ach nach bhfuil curtha de láimh; go gcríochnaítear leis seo an Ceathrú Céim; agus go ndéantar leis seo an Bille a rith."

As it is now 1.30 p.m., I am required to put the following question in accordance with an Order of the Dáil of this day: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for Health and Children, and not disposed of, are hereby made to the Bill; Fourth Stage is hereby completed; and the Bill is hereby passed."

Cuireadh an cheist.

Question put.

Ahern, Bertie.Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Andrews, David.Ardagh, Seán.Aylward, Liam.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.Briscoe, Ben.Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh.Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary.Cowen, Brian.Cullen, Martin.Daly, Brendan.Davern, Noel.de Valera, Síle.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fahey, Frank.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Fox, Mildred.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Harney, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.

Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Kitt, Michael P.Kitt, Tom.Lenihan, Brian.Lenihan, Conor.McDaid, James.McGuinness, John J.Martin,Micheál.Moffatt, Thomas.Molloy, Robert.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Donoghue, John.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Hanlon, Rory.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Keeffe, Ned.O'Kennedy, Michael.O'Rourke, Mary.Power, Seán.Ryan, Eoin.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Wade, Eddie.Wallace, Dan.Walsh, Joe.Woods, Michael.Wright, G. V.

Níl

Allen, Bernard.Barnes, Monica.Bell, Michael.Belton, Louis J.Boylan, Andrew.Bradford, Paul.Broughan, Thomas P.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, Richard.Burke, Liam.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Coveney, Simon.Crawford, Seymour.Creed, Michael.Currie, Austin.

D'Arcy, Michael.De Rossa, Proinsias.Deasy, Austin.Deenihan, Jimmy.Dukes, Alan.Durkan, Bernard.Farrelly, John.Fitzgerald, Frances.Flanagan, Charles.Gilmore, Éamon.Gregory, Tony.Hayes, Brian.Hayes, Tom.Healy, Seamus.Higgins, Jim.Higgins, Joe.Higgins, Michael.Hogan, Philip. Howlin, Brendan.

Níl–continued

Kenny, Enda.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGahon, Brendan.McGinley, Dinny.McGrath, Paul.McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Gay.Mitchell, Jim.Mitchell, Olivia.Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.Naughten, Denis.Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Owen, Nora.

Penrose, William.Perry, John.Quinn, Ruairí.Rabbitte, Pat.Reynolds, Gerard.Ring, Michael.Sargent, Trevor.Shatter, Alan.Sheehan, Patrick.Shortall, Róisín.Spring, Dick.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.Wall, Jack.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Power; Níl, Deputies Bradford and Stagg.
Faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh leis an gceist.
Question declared carried.