Saturday 27 May 2017

Labour's display of courage on abortion issue

Labour’s Brendan Howlin, Joan Burton and Alan Kelly; the party says it wants to let
people vote on the Eighth Amendment. Photo: Tom Burke
Labour’s Brendan Howlin, Joan Burton and Alan Kelly; the party says it wants to let people vote on the Eighth Amendment. Photo: Tom Burke
Martina Devlin

Martina Devlin

In an ideal world there would be no unwanted pregnancies - every baby would be welcomed by two loving parents. Take a look out of the window. This is not an ideal world. Like most people, I would prefer abortions not to happen. Just as I would prefer no pregnant women to be left unsupported, and no child poverty. But there have always been unwanted pregnancies, which explains why our history is littered with backstreet butcheries, Magdalene laundries and forced adoptions.

While those days are gone, their replacement - exporting the problem rather than dealing with it honestly - is not what any compassionate person would call a solution. What we have now is sticking-plaster law. Neither pro-choice nor pro-life supporters are satisfied with the fudges foisted on us by legislators.

The answer is as simple as it is unpalatable to those who prefer to look the other way as Irishwomen are forced to go abroad for abortions: a referendum to clarify the wishes of the Irish people. But debates around abortion are poisonous, and many politicians fear alienating voters, especially with a General Election just days away.

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