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Falsehoods of No campaign should be challenged, says Harris

Minister criticises use of children with Down syndrome on referendum posters

Minister for Health Simon Harris. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said it is time to challenge the falsehoods used by the No side in the referendum campaign.

Mr Harris strongly criticised the use of photographs of children with Down syndrome in the poster campaign by the those opposed to repealing the Eighth Amendment.

The Minister claimed it is a “disgusting thing to say” to children with Down syndrome that they would not be born if the Eighth Amendment was not in the Constitution.

Mr Harris said the facts do not bear that out and the posters do not account for the fact that terminations on basis of a disability is not permitted.

The Minister also criticised the comparisons with the United Kingdom claiming it is the same tactic used in the divorce referendum.

Mr Harris said: “The UK does not have a ban on late-term abortions. The UK does not have an obligation to deliver pregnancy when it reaches viability.

“The UK has a very different situation to time periods for which abortion is allowed. The committee, on an all-party basis, teased all this out. The Citizen’s Assembly have teased all of this out. It is the same tactics we see.”

The referendum is 11 days away and both sides are increasing their efforts to secure votes.

Mr Harris was speaking at the National Women’s Council launch for a Yes vote and was joined by former tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

The Minister said he looks forward to calling out the misinformation circulating in this debate.

Now is not the time to confuse voters but to listen to experts in this area, Mr Harris added.

The referendum will ask voters whether to want Article 40.3.3 to be removed from the Constitution and allow for the regulation of the termination of pregnancy.

If passed, the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act will remain the law of the land.

The Government has proposed legislating for access to terminations up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and when a mother’s life or health is at risk.

If there is a Yes vote on May 25th, Mr Harris said he will engage in a period of consultation with medical professionals on the proposed legislation.

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