Varadkar: No vote would send wrong message to women

Three FF TDs indicate they will not back legislation for abortion up to 12 weeks

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar joined cabinet colleagues and Fine Gael members at a final event in Dublin city centre to call for a Yes vote on the Eighth Amendment on polling day. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said a Yes vote in the referendum on the Eighth Amendment could help lift the stigma for 170,000 women who have travelled abroad to seek a termination of their pregnancy.

Mr Varadkar insisted he was not taking the outcome of the referendum for granted, but said he did not want to contemplate a No vote or what it would mean for women across the country.

There has been a legacy of shame in this country, and the passage of this referendum would assist those women, he added.

“A No vote would send out the wrong message, not just to women but to society. There has been in Ireland a legacy of shame in many ways. The fact women have had to travel, sometimes in secret, to other jurisdictions to end their pregnancies, and I hope that a Yes vote would end that stigma, and help to take away that legacy of shame that exists in our society.”

Fine Gael members advocating a Yes vote gathered for the final time to encourage people to vote Yes. Mr Varadkar was joined by Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Minister for Health Simon Harris, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and several others.

If there is a Yes vote the Government would publish the final Heads of a Bill to regulate the termination of pregnancy by the summer, and seek to legislate by the end of the year.

Outcome

Fianna Fáil TDs Mary Butler, Eamon Ó Cuív and Declan Breathnach were among a number of TDs to call for a No vote at their final press conference on Thursday.

The three TDs indicated they would not support legislation to allow for abortion up to 12 weeks regardless of the outcome of the referendum. However, they said they may seek to amend the Government’s Bill to allow for terminations in certain circumstances.

Mr Breathnach said he hoped it would not be a Yes vote, but if it was he would be looking to legislate for the hard cases.

“Common sense should prevail in the cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, rape and incest. I would support that. Most people understand the hard cases. The Dáil should debate that...we have reached a situation where people are in a crisis making their decision.”

Ms Butler said she would not halt legislation in the cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities. However, she would “never be in agreement with abortion on demand” because “every child has a right to life”.

Mr ÓCuív declined to state whether he would support abortions in those cases, stressing his belief that “every human life is of equal worth”.

‘Use their influence’

It is understood senior members of Fianna Fail have contacted individual TDs to “use their influence” to ensure members of the party who support a No vote do not threaten to block the legislation.

There have been a number of TDs who claim they will not support the legislation regardless of the outcome of the referendum.

One party source said there would be some TDs and Senators who would rush to the media to claim they can stop the legislation. “The message was to try to curb that enthusiasm because it is bad for the party,” the source added.

Meanwhile, party leader Micheál Martin urged people to vote Yes .

He said he understood this was not black and white, but urged people to vote Yes for women in “traumatic crises, and who want compassionate care in their own country”.

Abortion: The Facts

Read now