Minister of State calls for a free Dáil vote on fatal foetal abnormalities bill

The Attorney-General says the bill is unconstitutional

Fatal foetal abnormalities bill, Dail vote, free vote, Attorney-General, Finian McGrath

Minister of State with Responsibility for Disabilities, Finian McGrath talking to the media while arriving for Cabinet | Image: RollingNews.ie

Minister of State Finian McGrath says he wants a free vote in the Dáil over whether to allow abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

The House is set to discuss proposed legislation today, which would permit terminations when babies are not expected to survive.

The Attorney-General says the bill, put forward by Independent Deputy Mick Wallace, is unconstitutional.

However ministers from the Independent Alliance group want the right to support it anyway.

The party whip has been used by most of the political parties in the past to ensure members vote the same way on the issue of abortion.

However Minister McGrath says politicians are entitled to vote with their own conscience.

Meanwhile it has been revealed that 26 abortions were carried out in Ireland last year under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

A report shows 14 of the terminations were from physical illness, three were carried out where there was a risk of suicide and nine were because of medical emergencies.

Consultant in obstetrics and gynecology, Professor Sam Coulter-Smith, told Newstalk Breakfast it is not clear how many women may have travelled to the UK for an abortion due to fatal foetal abnormalities.