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Ireland: abortion legislaton is passed

Prime Minister Enda Kenny (Virginia Mayo/AP/Press Association Images)

The Irish Government has passed legislation allowing abortion in the country where the mother is at risk of suicide, in what is perhaps the biggest ever set back for the pro-life movement.

Only five TDs voted against the Government as the Dail voted 127 to 31 in favour of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, which would allow abortion if a woman was thought to be at risk from suicide.

Lucinda Creighton, the minister for European Affairs, was the highest profile rebel, and now faces being expelled from the ruling Fine Gael Party.

The Bill allows an expectant mother to seek an abortion on the grounds that she is prepared to take her own life, which many fear will lead to abortion on demand.

At present abortion is available in Ireland only where the mother’s life is at risk, and Prime Minister Enda Kenny said the law would bring “medical clarity and legal certainty for the women of our country”.

An amendment proposed by rebel Fine Gael TD Billy Timmins to remove the suicide clause from the legislation was supported by Miss Creighton, who had refused to support the rule and called for alternative therapies to be offered instead, but the demand were ignored.

She said: “I’m very sad. But at the same time I feel a bit relieved because this is obviously something that’s been weighing on everybody’s minds for months and months.

“It’s no exaggeration to say, I think, an awful lot of people have really struggled to make a decision on how they would vote in this legislation.”

Sinn Féin TD Peadar Toibín also voted against the Bill, which was supported by his party