Friday 20 July 2018

Amnesty International boss urges vote for repeal in abortion referendum

Colm O’Gorman said it was time for the people to decide ‘what kind of a country we want Ireland to be’.

Marchers calling for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment (Niall Carson/PA)
Marchers calling for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment (Niall Carson/PA)

By Michael McHugh, Press Association

This is a once in a generation opportunity for people in Ireland to have their say on the Eighth Amendment, Amnesty International said.

The referendum will not be about politicians or slogans, executive director Colm O’Gorman said.

He took the campaign for repeal to Dublin’s Moore Street where they canvassed the views of stallholders ahead of the May 25 polling day.

Mr O’Gorman said: “It has taken 35 years, seven governments, a European Court of Human Rights ruling, the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar and the suffering of countless other women and girls,
Ireland being repeatedly hauled before the UN, a massive civil society campaign, a Citizen’s Assembly and a special Joint Oireachtas Committee to get us to this referendum.

“This is it. Now is the time to decide what kind of a country we want Ireland to be.”

Terminations are not permitted in cases of rape, incest or foetal abnormality.

Many women travel abroad for procedures every year.

The eighth amendment acknowledges the right to life of the unborn.

Health Minister Simon Harris said a Yes vote in the referendum was the only way to treat women with compassion and respect.

“Unless we remove the Eighth Amendment from our constitution, we will continue to force thousands of women and girls in this country to go abroad to access abortions and thousands more to use abortion pills in their own homes and without proper medical supervision.

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Anti-abortion protesters march through Dublin (Caroline Quinn/PA)

“The shame, the isolation, it is time to talk about the reality of that and to change it.”

Independent Senator Lynn Ruane said powerful elites had blocked women’s access to abortion and reproductive healthcare for decades.

She added: “This referendum is about working-class women, it is about women everywhere.

“We need a conversation that is inclusive of all our communities.

“We cannot be airbrushed out or dismissed. This referendum is about us too.”

Press Association

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