Eamon Ó Cuív raises eyebrows with abortion prison sentence suggestion

galway daily eamon o cuiv eighth amendment abortion

Veteran Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív has raised eyebrows by suggesting that the prison sentence for having an abortion (which can be up to 14 years) could be reduced by treating abortion as infanticide under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act of 2006.

The Galway West TD said in the Dáil that infanticide “can carry a very, very short prison sentence”.

“In the context of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006, the then Minister, Senator Michael McDowell, reduced the offence for infanticide to manslaughter, which can carry a very short prison sentence, much lower than the sentence for the previous charge of murder. Using the logic of Senator McDowell’s amendment in 2006, when he said reducing the penalty was about modernising the law,” said the Fianna Fáil TD.

“We could look at doing the same thing for abortion. Can the Taoiseach confirm that a person going to a doctor and suffering from the after effects of taking the abortion pill would be protected by the doctor-patient relationship in terms of confidentiality?

“This has been confirmed by the chair of the Referendum Commission so I ask the Taoiseach to stop frightening women off seeking medical aid if they need it, under threat of prosecution which he, as a doctor, knows will not and cannot happen.”

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar responded by saying: “If there is a “No” vote on Friday, it will still be a criminal offence. I find it bizarre, however, that the Deputy believes this should be a criminal offence that is not enforced. Why would one keep something as a crime if one does not think it should be enforced? I find that unusual.”

Leo explained to Deputy Ó Cuív why the prison sentence is currently up to 14 years.

“The eighth amendment states that the right to life of the unborn, even at one week’s gestation, is equal to the right to life of a pregnant woman.

“Therefore, the penalty has to be the same. The penalty for having an abortion has to be equal to the penalty for killing a pregnant woman, which is not infanticide because, of course, infants do not get pregnant. The penalty has to be at the level of homicide or manslaughter.”

Today Deputy Ó Cuív said that if it’s a Yes vote tomorrow, then within five years term limits would be abolished – as a requirement of a party entering a coalition.