'Very different situation' - Harris 'frustrated' that 'No' side compares proposed abortion law to that of UK
Minister for Health Simon Harris has hit out at ‘inaccurate’ claims by the ‘No’ side about the government's legislation should the eighth amendment be repealed in the referendum.
He said posters depicting people with down syndrome and other disabilities claiming these people were "only alive" because of Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws were “upsetting”.
“We’ve specifically excluded disability for grounds for abortion in the legislation”, he explained.
“It’s quite upsetting for people with down syndrome in Ireland to say that they’re only born because the eighth amendment is here”, he said.
“The facts don’t bear that out, and it’s really actually quite disgusting to say to these parents”, said the minister.
Minister Harris also said he was “frustrated that the ‘No’ side keep comparing the government's proposed legislation to that in the UK, and I think a lot of our people too”.
He said it was the same inaccurate tactic that “they used in the abortion referendum”, where “they said if you bring in divorce in Ireland, divorce rates would go the same way as the UK”.
“We know that didn’t happen”.
Mr Harris clarified that the government legislation is “very different” to the abortion law in the UK.
“The UK does not have a ban on late-term abortions; it does not have an obligation to deliver a pregnancy once it reaches viability”, he said.
The UK has a “very different” situation for which termination is allowed.
Speaking at an event arranged by the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) entitled “My Yes is for Every Woman”, was also Fine Gael T.D. and former Minister for Justice and former head of the NWCI, Frances Fitzgerald.
“This is really about a Yes for future generations of Irish women.
“It’s about a Yes for Savita” Halappanvar she said.
Meanwhile the minister urged people who want to change the law, to make sure they get out to vote.
He said the divorce referendum in 1995 was “very tight” and almost didn’t pass.
“One vote in every ballot box in every way would have changed the referendum; it was literally a very tight result”, he said.
“We can take nothing for granted.
“Every single day 9 women are going to the UK for termination
“Every day 3 women will take the abortion pill alone”, ‘if we want to change this – we need to get out to vote.’
He then pointed to the fact the law states that there is a 14-year penalty for abortion in ireland.
“The law of the land says they are breaking the law” and ‘there could be prosecutions’ if the Eighth Amendment is not repealed, said Minister Harris.