Dáil Éireann - Volume 420 - 03 June, 1992

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Abortion Information.

1. Mrs. Fennell asked the Taoiseach whether he has received the report from the Minister of State for Womens Affairs on the extent of the restrictions on abortion information such as censorship of imported magazines and newspapers, and withdrawal of women's health books from libraries which he promised at the all-party meeting with Oireachtas women Members on 25 February.

The Taoiseach: Following the meeting which I and Minister of State Kitt had with women Deputies and Senators on 25 February 1992, I conveyed the concerns expressed at the meeting by the Oireachtas Members to the Government. Subsequently, the Government decided, on 10 March 1992, to establish a Cabinet subcommittee to consider the issues raised by the Deputy as well as other issues. The Cabinet subcommittee are continuing their deliberations on this very complex issue and, as I have informed the House on numerous occasions, the Government will inform the House and the public in general as soon as the committee submit recommendations on all or even part of the issues which are pertinent to their remit.

Mrs. Fennell: I thank the Taoiseach for his reply. Would the Taoiseach not accept that the issue of information on abortion is now a sick joke, given the fact [1219] that the Official Report of Thursday last, 28 May 1992, contains the full text of the Marie Stopes advertisement with the relevant telephone numbers and can be purchased at the Government Publications Office for £1.50? Given the fact that the Official Report can be legally bought and distributed, indeed given to all the family planning clinics, would the Taoiseach not accept that this makes a total laughing stock of Dáil Éireann?

The Taoiseach: I am sure the Deputy knows as well as I do that the decision to withdraw the books in question from libraries was taken by Dublin Corporation members who voted to take those books off the shelves. Perhaps the Deputy should direct her energy in that direction. I have explained the position from the Government's point of view and the steps we have taken to resolve it.

Mrs. Fennell: Would the Taoiseach consider having the State injunction withdrawn, given the expressed views of the judges and their judgment in the “X” case? Would it not be prudent, given the difficulties that women are facing, to lift these restrictions and enable information on abortion to be circulated, as it now can be done when one buys a copy of the Official Report of Thursday last?

The Taoiseach: I outlined to the House and to the Deputy the Government's position and said that the matter will be dealt with later this year. The Deputy seems to want to side step the fact that the decision in this case was taken by members of Dublin Corporation who voted on the matter and I am not sure if members of her own party participated in that vote.