Fianna Fáil leader criticises ‘offensive’ anti-abortion claims
Micheál Martin says Eighth Amendment ‘cruelly insensitive’ to women of Ireland
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin at a Lawyers Together for Yes event in Dublin on Wednesday evening. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has criticised “dishonest and offensive” campaigning by some anti-abortion groups, claiming they are deliberately spreading inaccuracies about what a Yes vote in the May 25th referendum will mean.
Mr Martin rejected the suggestion that repealing the Eighth Amendment would lead to unlimited abortions or late-term terminations.
He said that where there was a viable pregnancy, there would be a delivery and he noted that obstetricians agreed on this point.
“It has also been suggested that the limits and regulations proposed in the legislation can’t be trusted and that effectively there will be no limits. This is entirely wrong,” he added.
“We should all remember that five years ago many people claimed that abortion on demand was being introduced because limits in that legislation wouldn’t be respected. Those claims turned out to be false.”
Mr Martin was speaking at an event hosted by Lawyers Together for Yes at which he was joined by a number of his Fianna Fáil colleagues including frontbench members Jim O’Callaghan, Billy Kelleher and Timmy Dooley.
The Fianna Fáil leader said empathy was no longer enough for women and that people’s views and feelings on difficult cases needed to be translated into a legal context and framework.
Terminations within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy was the only legal mechanism to legislate for the cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormalities, he said, adding that these hard cases would not go away.
Mr Martin said voting no would retain the status quo and “a system cruelly insensitive to women” and one that “compounds original traumas with further traumas”.
He was questioned at the event by the woman in the ‘D’ case, Deirdre Conroy, who went to the European Court of Human Rights in 2005 arguing that her human rights had been violated when she was denied an abortion in the State.
She asked would Fianna Fáil, if in government, facilitate another referendum if there is a No vote on May 25th.
Mr Martin said he believed there would be a Yes vote and that contemplating another referendum was not a “debate he was prepared to enter into”. He said he would respect the outcome of the referendum and urged others to do likewise.
The Cork South-Central TD is one of a small number of his parliamentary party who supports repealing the Eighth Amendment and allowing access to terminations up to the 12th week of pregnancy.
A photocall of Fianna Fáil members advocating a Yes vote, including members of the parliamentary party, took place in Dublin afterwards. Mr Martin did not attend.
Asked if he believed party members opposed to repeal would try to block the laws that follow in the event of a Yes vote, Mr Martin said he believed a Yes vote would be a significant catalyst in ensuring the legislation is passed.
He said many members of his party had privately told him they would not stand in the way of the legislation being enacted if the amendment is repealed.