April, 2018 I www.irishecho.com.au
AUST R ALIA’S IR ISH NE WSPAP E R
ireland :: abortion referendum IRELAND TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON ABORTION ON MAY 25
Taoiseach campaigns for ‘yes’ vote David Young
A REFERENDUM on Ireland’s strict constitutional position on abortion will be held on Friday May 25, the Government has confirmed. Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy officially signed the order to set the date of the vote. Polls will open at 7am and close at 10pm. The move came after both Houses of the Oireachtas in Dublin passed the legislation required to hold a referendum on the contentious issue. Citizens will be asked if they want to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, a provision that makes abortion illegal in all but exceptional circumstances. The total electorate is about 3.2 million. Citizens living abroad are not permitted a say. “Whatever your views are on the proposals in the referendum, can I take
this opportunity to encourage voters to go to their polling station during this 15-hour period on 25 May and have your say in the outcome of the referendum,” Mr Murphy said. Eligible citizens will be asked if they want to replace the Eighth Amendment, which gives the mother and unborn an equal right to life, with wording that hands responsibility for setting the country’s abortion laws to politicians. If the public votes to repeal the constitutional provision, the government intends to table legislation that would permit women to abort within 12 weeks of pregnancy. The proposed laws will also outlaw late-term abor tions, other than in medical emergency situations. Mr Murphy encouraged eligible voters to make sure they are registered. After the date was confirmed, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeted: “On May 25th Irish people will have the
chance to make change in our Constitution – to trust women and trust doctors. “A ‘yes’ vote will mean a safe, legal, doctor-led system for the termination of pregnancy will be introduced in Ireland #Together4Yes.” The Taoiseach later rejected as unconstitutional a suggestion by the Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, that future changes to proposed abortion laws would require a twothirds majority. Mr Varadkar said Mr Coveney’s proposal would not be incorporated into legislation if citizens decided to repeal the constitutional prohibition on abortion in the referendum. Mr Coveney had proposed that any future changes to those laws would require a two-thirds majority in the Dáil. Mr Varadkar told the Dáil that such a locked majority would breach the Constitution. “I sought advice from the Attorney
Yes campaigners mimic young women travelling to England for abortions as part of the Repeal The Eighth movement.
General [Seamus Woulfe] on that matter and the Attor ney General advises me it would be contrar y to Ar ticle 15 of the constitution and therefore could not be included in this legislation and therefore will not be,” he said. “So there will not be any require-
ment that any change to primar y legislation would require a two-thirds majority, as doing so would require an amendment to the Constitution itself and it’s not proposed to do that.” The proposed laws will also outlaw late-term abor tions, other than in medical emergencies.
REFERENDUM CAMPAIGN CRANKS UP AS ‘YES’ AND ‘NO’ SIDES PUT THEIR RESPECTIVE CASES
Coveney shifts view on timing David Young
THE Tánaiste has changed his stance on potential new abortion laws for the country by backing terminations up to 12 weeks into pregnancy. While Simon Coveney had backed the call to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the constitution – a provision that makes abortion illegal in all but exceptional circumstances – he had voiced opposition to the government’s proposed alternative, the 12week model. But he has now shifted position. Explaining his decision, he cited concern that if abortion pills were not made available in that time frame, women would continue to access them online and without the advice of a doctor. He said he backed the 12-week proposal if it was accompanied by strict medical protocols. “When it comes to prescribing abortion pills early in pregnancy, I have struggled most with this issue,” he wrote in the Irish Independent. “If we do nothing, we know pills will continue to be purchased online and taken without medical supervision. We cannot knowingly allow this to continue, given the dangers involved.” The proposed legislation will include a pause period within the 12week time frame, so a woman would have to wait at least 48 hours after requesting a pill for it to be prescribed. The proposed laws will also outlaw late term abortions. “I could never support a law that allows for late-term abortions,” Mr Coveney wrote. “The Government will move to close off any suggestion of that happening by stating that a baby who could survive outside the womb will not be aborted in any circumstance.” The Tanaiste also said he was concerned that anti-abortion advocates in Ireland were “being dismissed as dinosaurs or anti-women” in the debate. “Removing the equal right to life of the unborn from our Constitution is not something I easily or immediately supported,” he said. “I say this as a husband and father of three beautiful young girls.”
DIVIDED OPINIONS: A pregnant activist at the launch of the No campaign in Dublin last week.
‘This is a rising of the people against the elites’ Aine Fox ANTI-ABORTIONISTS have cranked up their campaign, framing their arguments in terms of a rebellion against urban elites and using terms such as licence to kill. The No campaign officially launched its Save the 8th campaign at the Gresham Hotel in Dublin last week. Young children and TDs were among a crowd gathered in Dublin at the event where speakers included medical professionals, students and mothers. Citizens will be asked on May 25 if they want to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, a provision that makes abortion illegal in all but exceptional circumstances. Activists described a ‘yes’ vote in May’s referendum as a “horrible and tragic mistake” and claimed it would be a “licence to kill” the unborn. Caoimhe Lynch, from Killarney in Co Kerry, said her mother fell pregnant as a 23-year-old nursing student.
“It was suggested to her that she should have an abortion. Now imagine. Imagine if she had gone to England for that abortion,” Ms Lynch, 20, told the crowd:. To loud applause, the NUI Galway arts student added: “I wouldn’t be able to experience all the amazing things life has offered me. “The Eighth Amendment is so precious. It protects lives and that is priceless. A life is priceless. “To think next year one in five babies might be aborted is unimaginable but it’s the horrifying reality. “Women need to know no matter how impossible their situation is, abortion is never the answer,” Ms Lynch said. Campaign leader Niamh Ui Bhriain urged people to turn out and vote to reject abortion and the “untrustworthy political class”. “The polls are turning in our favour and as the reality of the repeal slogan becomes more and more evident to voters, more and more voters are
‘No’ campaigner Caoimhe Lynch, from Killarney at the launch. turning against this proposal,” Ms Ui Bhriain said. “This is a rising of the people against the elites, and on May 25th it’s time to join a rebellion, and to reject both abortion on demand and the untrustworthy political class that wants to repeal the right to life of children before birth.” Dr John Monaghan said he had
delivered between 4,000 and 5,000 babies during his career. “Not on one occasion was I prevented from protecting a woman’s life because of the Eighth Amendment”, he said. Dr Monaghan said Ireland is a “remarkably safe place” to be pregnant, adding: “It is a very simple observation that if the Eighth Amendment was dramatically risking the health of women, this would not be the case. The figures don’t add up.” Campaign communications director John McGuirk said it was “undoubtedly a tight race” but said he is confident from feedback on the doorsteps that a ‘no’ vote can prevail. “I think there’s an awful lot of people, particularly outside Dublin, who tell me that the ‘no’ vote is strong, it is growing and we believe we’re going to win.” The No movement has a budget of about €400,000, he said, adding that a “significant” amount of that will be spent on online campaigning.
Irish Echo - Australia's Irish Newspaper Digital Edition Vol 31, No4 - Apr 2018