Saturday 24 August 2019

Simon Harris: I have to accept the reality that Irish women are having dangerous abortions

Health Minister Simon Harris Picture: Steve Humphreys
Health Minister Simon Harris Picture: Steve Humphreys

Shona Murray in Cavan

Health Minister Simon Harris says people need to "face the reality that Irish women are having dangerous abortions" either by taking an abortion pill ordered from the internet or by travelling abroad.

The minister was speaking at the Fine Gael Party conference in Cavan where the forthcoming referendum on the Eight Amendment was on the agenda for discussion.

In a heavily filled room members of the party expressed their views to the parliamentary party about Fine Gael’s policy on abortion and the referendum ahead.

Emotional calls for both retaining and repealing the Eight Amendment were heard.

One member, Barry Walsh asked "where is the demand for this referendum coming from".

"Are we really going to spend as a party six months talking about abortion?"

Another woman, Geraldine Creegan told the party about her own experience with crisis pregnancy.

"I have three beautiful children but I also had a crisis pregnancy and I would not wish it on anybody".

She addressed two of her party colleagues, Peter Fitzpatrick and Bernad Durkan who identify as anti-abortion.

"This is a women’s issue. God bless Peter and Bernard, they will never have the pain that I went through when I had a crisis pregnancy".

"And I’m not a baby killer," she said.

The minister also reconfirmed that there would be a free vote in relation to a referendum bill and the referendum.

He called for "calm" voices and told the group:  "I’ve sat in far too many rooms with women who have found this country to be cold, neglectful, lonely and isolating".

"That’s the truth, abortion is a reality for many, it just takes place with a pill from the internet, or a trip to another country."

"As the Irish minister for health I have to accept the reality that Irish women are having dangerous abortions," he said.

Senator Catherine Noone, chair of the committee said the Oireachtas Committee examining the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly and hearing from expert witnesses on the issue of abortion said she will report with recommendations to the Dail by December 20th.

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