TD calls on colleagues to listen to women

Fri, Dec 7, 2012, 00:00

A Government backbencher has appealed to fellow male TDs to listen very carefully to their female relatives in the debate on abortion.

Labour Dublin South East TD Kevin Humphreys made the call as he said “we’re here talking today about a women’s issue with very few women in this House. And I think it’s time we allowed women to make decisions about their own health.”

Mr Humphreys said his views on the issue were influenced during the 1983 referendum when he was asked to give a number of women in his housing estate a lift to the polling station. Their husbands wouldn’t drive them to the polling station “because they weren’t happy with the way their wives were voting. That has always had a big effect on me since then”.

Appealing to his male colleagues, he called on them to “look and listen very carefully to your wives, your daughters, your sisters, because the legislation and regulation we put through here will deeply affect them and the next generation”.

Mr Humphreys was speaking during the ongoing Dáil debate on the report of the expert group on the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the A, B and C versus Ireland case. He said it was a case again of “men articulating a position on women and their health I find it very difficult to stomach”.

He called on TDs to “just think of the thousands of women, and they are women, who have to leave Ireland and travel to England. There’s no recognition. They’re hidden members of our societies . . . and if we are truly caring people we have to accept they went through real torment, having to travel, to be alone and go through that experience by themselves and then come back and hide it from their own families. “And now we have a House full of men discussing their health issues.”

He believed “we have a responsibility to legislate and we’re going to come under extreme pressure”. He said “there is a fundamental health issue here. There is a fundamental right and that right is for a woman to have control and decision over her own body.”