Wednesday 17 October 2018

Comment: Abortion is never an easy choice - let's not make the debate ugly as well

Independent Mattie McGrath criticised fellow TD Anne Rabbitte and committee chair Catherine Noone. Photo: Collins Photo Agency
Independent Mattie McGrath criticised fellow TD Anne Rabbitte and committee chair Catherine Noone. Photo: Collins Photo Agency
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Nobody should feel particularly happy when the result of the abortion referendum is revealed next summer.

There is nothing happy or joyous about having an abortion, no matter what the reason for it.

Both sides of the argument should reflect on that before they engage in a debate that is already setting the groundwork for an ill-informed vote.

The country is six months out from a historic decision that will gain international headlines. Regardless of the outcome, Ireland will have changed.

The road to the polling booth could leave lasting damage if the scenes of intolerant political debate so far are anything to go by. The latest outburst, from independent TD Mattie McGrath, is just one example.

At the start of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, his views on the issue sat comfortably with those of Fianna Fáil TD Anne Rabbitte.

Anne Rabbitte TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Anne Rabbitte TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

She described herself as pro-life and went on to oppose a recommendation the amendment should be repealed from the Constitution. However, this week she attended the publication of the committee's final report, saying she believed in the process. She backed allowing terminations in cases where doctors determine a fatal foetal abnormality is likely to result in death before, or shortly after, birth.

As a result, Mr McGrath accused her of being "all over the place".

"She's saying she's pro-life in one word, and in the other she's not," he said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has told the Independent.ie his deputy went on "a journey" during the committee's hearing, and shouldn't be "attacked in such a derogatory way".

Chairperson of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Senator Catherine Noone. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Chairperson of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Senator Catherine Noone. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

It's not Mr McGrath's first attack, having previously made a joke about the chair of the committee, Catherine Noone, and the "fat lady" singing.

Of course, it works both ways. Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger has never been slow to admonish men in the Dáil for having an opinion, saying it's all about women's bodily autonomy.

She appears not to realise abortions can emotionally affect potential fathers too - not to mention that she'll have to win over male voters if repeal is to become a reality. Abortion is not pretty, so let's not have an ugly debate as well.

Irish Independent

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