Sunday 16 December 2018

Deliberate myths pushed in abortion referendum, says Culture Minister

Josepha Madigan said voters should be given the ‘correct facts’ on the vote over repealing the Eighth Amendment.

Minister Josepha Madigan speaks on the abortion referendum (Tom Honan/PA)
Minister Josepha Madigan speaks on the abortion referendum (Tom Honan/PA)

By Laura Paterson, Press Association

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan has said there is a “deliberate attempt” to push myths around the abortion referendum.

Speaking at a Fine Gael event aimed at tackling the issue after canvassing voters in Dublin on Wednesday morning, she said: “We know why we need the Eighth Amendment removed from the constitution but I think there are a lot of people out there who are still undecided, still confused what the facts are.

“As co-ordinator of the Fine Gael group, I think we have a duty to dispel those myths and to debunk those myths and to call out any mistruths that are being propagated.

“Often it is a deliberate attempt to obfuscate and to confuse people and to distort the truth.

“We have to make sure that people get the correct facts.”

Professor Fiona De Londras, Birmingham University professor of global legal studies, also spoke at the press conference at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute.

She said: “The Eighth Amendment was a constitutional experiment that has proved to be bad law for women who are forced into illegality and secrecy if they decide to end their pregnancies, for doctors who can only intervene when a woman’s life is at real and substantial risk and are thus impeded in their ability to properly care for patients, and for the Oireachtas, which cannot legislate to respond to real life.”

Prof De Londras said repeal would “empower the Oireachtas” to strike a balance between the protecting unborn life and the life and health of pregnant women.

She went on to address what she said were a number of myths surrounding the campaign, stating that it will not lead to unrestricted abortion up to six months, will not be the most liberal in Europe, and will not lead to abortion on the grounds of disability.

Prof De Londras said the proposed new law is not analogous to UK abortion legislation and would protect unborn life.

Earlier, the minister was joined by several Fine Gael colleagues in handing out Yes leaflets to commuters at Pearse Street Station in Dublin.

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Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan and Fine Gael colleague Senator Catherine Noone handing out Vote Yes leaflets to commuters outside Pearce Street Station in Dublin (Laura Paterson/PA)

She said the response had been “overwhelmingly positive”.

Some of those canvassed said they would definitely vote Yes and others refused leaflets, while one man told the minister he did not believe the referendum should be party political.

Abortion is currently only available in the Republic when a mother’s life is at risk, but not in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape or incest.

Draft legislation to be introduced if the referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment is passed in the vote on May 25 proposes enabling unrestricted terminations for pregnancies up to 12 weeks.

Press Association

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