Anti-abortion TD criticises fellow No campaigners

Fianna Fáil deputy says terminations should be allowed in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality

A Fianna Fáil TD opposing the repeal of the Eighth Amendment has criticised the No side for failing to acknowledge terminations should be allowed in exceptional cases.

Anne Rabbitte, who is advocating a No vote, said she does not share the view that abortions should be prohibited in all circumstances.

Ms Rabbitte believes abortion should be permitted when a woman has been raped or a victim of incest, or when there is a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality.

This should have been the focus of the No side in the referendum campaign, she told The Irish Times.


Ms Rabbitte said: “If there is a No vote next week, we will still have to look at those cases. I think those of us opposed to repeal should have focused our efforts on that argument.

“I am a No voter, but I am also a realist and we cannot abandon women in these circumstances.”

The Galway East TD said she had made her views known to Save the 8th and Love Both in recent days but has not yet received a response.

The group “did a double lock-down” and refused to put forward a contrarian view, she added.

“I think most people within Fianna Fáil and outside of the party share that view. The No side did not want to engage in that conversation.”

Ms Rabbitte is one of a significant number in the party supporting the retention of the Eighth Amendment. She believes the “wrong question” is being put to the people.

An amendment to the Constitution to allow for these cases should be the proposition, Ms Rabbitte added.

The country will go the polls next Friday, May 25th on the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Voters will be asked whether to remove Article 40.3.3, which gives the unborn and the mother an equal right to life, and for the regulation of the termination of pregnancy.

Ms Rabbitte’s view was echoed by Fianna Fáil TD James Lawless, who said he did not think it was credible to pretend that everything was fine at present.

Mr Lawless said: “The absolutism of many No campaigners to countenance even the slightest change or any divergence from the status quo leaves behind a lot of the middle ground that may have be open to more moderate argument.

“Something has to give and it is a case of being part of that conversation or allow others to drive it. I think the majority of Irish people are in the middle but unfortunately this referendum has been reduced to two binary options, neither of which are palatable to many.

“The status quo is not working and I think a lot of Irish people get that but neither are they comfortable with the proposals on the table. I actually hold quite fundamental beliefs, I just don’t believe it is right to enforce them on others.”