Vicky Phelan: 'I am voting Yes for the women of Ireland'
Vicky Phelan, who is calling for a Yes vote in next week's referendum on the Eighth Amendment, has revealed how, when she was pregnant with her daughter, she was informed of the option of abortion after having a pre-natal test.
The Limerick mother-of-two, who has terminal cervical cancer and exposed the CervicalCheck scandal, said the suggestion of abortion was raised by a doctor when she had an amniocentesis test 30 weeks into her first pregnancy.
It confirmed her unborn daughter Amelia suffered from congenital toxoplasmosis, a serious inherited infection.
"I was horrified. I wanted this baby and was never going to abort my child. I stormed out of the room," she said.
The doctor who was carrying out the test 12 years ago said: "If you were living in the UK you could consider termination."
Ms Phelan said yesterday: "I was never going to have an abortion but I am still voting Yes.
"I have seen it from all angles and I believe women should have a choice."
Ms Phelan said her belief that women should have control over their own bodies is a long-held conviction.
It is based on her own life experience of hearing how college friends had to take a boat or plane to an abortion clinic in the UK.
"I went to college with girls who had to go to England and it was horrendous," she said.
"It has been in the back of my mind for a long time that we should be able to provide the service in Ireland."
In more recent years Ms Phelan said she had also felt deeply for women she knows who were told their unborn baby would not survive and had to go through with the pregnancy.
"I am not pro-abortion but I am pro-choice," she said.
"Women are having abortions anyway. It is safer to provide abortion here."
She has been asked several times in recent weeks how she is going to vote on Friday.
"It ties in with the cancer scandal in a way where information was withheld from women," she said. "It is safer in your own country. Having to go abroad to an abortion clinic is very clinical.
"At the moment women are listening to me and it is important to come out and say how I will vote," she told the Irish Independent.
Ms Phelan made her voting intentions clear on Twitter, saying: "I am voting Yes for the women of Ireland who have been let down by our health service and by our Government time and time again.
"If we really want women to be placed at the centre of their own care, vote Yes to allow us to make the choice about our own care #WhoNeedsYourYes."
Ms Phelan, who is attending the Ed Sheeran concert in Dublin tonight with her daughter Amelia, is to feature in a video for the National Women's Council outlining why she is voting Yes.
She remains single-minded and undaunted in her determination to get to the truth of the cancer scandal.
She was disappointed at the "ducking and diving" at Oireachtas committees by health officials this week when they were called to account for their part in the scandal.
"They are still fudging," she said.
Ms Phelan regularly speaks to Dr Gabriel Scally, the former NHS doctor who is doing a scoping inquiry into the scandal and is due to produce a report at the end of next month.
She said she wants full disclosure and pointed to revelations that there are no minutes of a meeting between Leo Varadkar when he was health minister and HSE directors in late 2015.
The Department of Health described the meeting as "informal".