Abortion vote: Repeal campaign not seeking ‘licence to kill’

Woman tells of shock of pregnancy at 16 and having to go to England for a termination

(L to r) Emma Hendrick, Ailbhe Smyth, Brid Smith TD, Eimear Farrell and  Sineád Carolan during a press conference on the Eighth Amendment  referendum at Buswells Hotel, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

(L to r) Emma Hendrick, Ailbhe Smyth, Brid Smith TD, Eimear Farrell and Sineád Carolan during a press conference on the Eighth Amendment referendum at Buswells Hotel, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

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The repeal of the Eighth Amendment is about giving women a choice over an aspect of their healthcare rather than, as claimed by the No campaign, seeking a a licence to kill, People before Profit TD Bríd Smith has said.

Ms Smith said anti-abortion groups had “a lot to answer for in terms of the confusion” among the population over what could happen in the event of a Yes vote in the May 25th poll.

She said those who claim abortion is “murder, it’s killing babies and it’s genocide should be ashamed of themselves because that is a distortion of the highest order”.

“The question being asked of you is not whether you think abortion is right or wrong or whether it fits with your morals, your ethics or religion. It’s about would you allow each individual woman to have her own right to decide,” Ms Smith said.

She added that repealing the amendment “is not about a licence to kill – it is about giving women a choice over an aspect of their own health”.

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The Dublin South Central TD was speaking at a press conference in Dublin at which she was joined by four women whose “lives have been impacted by the Eighth Amendment”.

Two of the women said they had travelled in the past to England to have abortions.

‘Shock and panic’

Sinead Carolan, who was 16 when she became pregnant and subsequently attempted suicide, said she “went into a state of shock and panic”.

She said she “couldn’t mentally, physically, emotionally and financially continue with the pregnancy”, and decided to travel to the UK for an abortion.

Ms Carolan is now married with two children and has “no regrets” about her decision. She said people “should not stand in judgment” of her, and that she herself had known what was “best [for her] at that time”.

Eimear Farrell, who had an abortion in the UK when 21, said it was not a decision she “made lightly”.

She said she wanted the Eighth Amendment, which guarantees an equal right to life to the mother and child, to be repealed so that women “are not exiled” like she was.

Ailbhe Smyth, co-director of the Together for Yes campaign group, said the amendment has been “the source of cruel suffering, deep distress and blatant inequality”.

Emma Hendrick, who is 32 weeks pregnant, said: “I want to feel safe with my care-givers and not feel their hands are being tied by legislation, rather than best medical practice.”

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