Saturday 19 January 2019

Varadkar defends comments on UK abortion journeys

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Frank McGrath
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Frank McGrath
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended comparing woman travelling to the UK for abortions to people who travel to Amsterdam and Las Vegas to take part in activities which are not legal in Ireland.

In a 2010 interview in the Sunday Independent's LIFE magazine, Mr Varadkar was asked if he believed it was a double standard to force thousands of woman to travel to the UK and elsewhere for abortions.

The Taoiseach replied: "I don't think that's double standards. People travel overseas to do things overseas that aren't legal in Ireland all the time.

"You know, are we going to stop people going to Las Vegas? Are we going to stop people going to Amsterdam? There are things that are illegal in Ireland and we don't prevent people from travelling overseas to avail of them," he added.

This weekend, Mr Varadkar defended his comments when asked if his views on woman travelling to the UK for abortions has been updated since the interview.

"The point I was making was that different countries have different laws," he said.

"Just because something is legal in one country does not mean it should be legal in all countries.

"It's up to us in Ireland to decide what our law is when it comes to abortion and I want the people to have an opportunity to do exactly that next year," he added.

Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands and in the US state of Nevada, which is home to the gambling city of Las Vegas. Recreational cannabis use is also legal in both jurisdictions.

More than 3,200 women travelled to the UK for abortions last year.

In the same LIFE magazine interview, Mr Varadkar said he was against allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest.

"I wouldn't be in favour of it in that case, and, you know, first of all, it isn't the child's fault that they're the child of rape," he said.

"You can say the same thing about disabled children. You know, some people would make that argument in favour of abortion. It's not their fault they're disabled. I wouldn't be in favour of it in those circumstances either.

"Even, how would that work practically? Would someone have to prove that they've been raped? I think where that's been brought in countries, it has more or less led to abortion on demand," he added.

Sunday Independent

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