Fianna Fáil's Micheal Martin says the 8th amendment should be removed

A second day of debates has been held on the issue

Fianna Fáil's Micheal Martin says the 8th amendment should be removed

Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin pictured in 2017 | Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The Dáil and Seanad have spent a second day debating abortion.

The Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has backed repealing the 8th amendment.

He also supported the Oireachtas Committee recommendation of abortion without restriction for up to 12 weeks.

In the Dáil, he said the reality is that abortion is in Ireland - and no laws will change that.

Mr Martin said: "The 8th amendment does not mean that Ireland is a country without abortion.

"Retaining the 8th amendment will not make Ireland a country without abortion.

Nothing we say or do here could make Ireland a country without abortion.

"It is also not the case that where legal abortion is provided there is one international approach to what is allowed.

"Countries differ significantly in terms of their legislation and also the prevalence of abortion.

"Because the 8th amendment has been shown to cause real damage to Irish women.

"Because it has caused real harm to the quality of care available to pregnant women at critical moments.

"Because it has not and cannot change the reality that abortion is a present and permanent part of Irish life.

"Because it seeks to force women to carry a pregnancy to term when they have been the victim of a rape or incest or when they have received the diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality.

"Because it requires that pregnant women and doctors are faced with criminal sanctions.

"And because it prevents us from responding in a humane way in order to help women in the most traumatic situations.

"Because of these reasons and following a long period of reflection and assessment of evidence before the Oireachtas Committee, I believe that we should remove the 8th amendment from Bunreacht na hÉireann and I will vote accordingly."

On Wednesday, Health Minister Simon Harris listed the amount of women in each county who traveled for an abortion last year.

He said he hoped. as a country, "we can no longer tolerate a law which denies care and understanding to women who are our friends, our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, our wives."

More TDs and Senators also gave their opinions on the recommendations.

Kate O'Connell speaking in Dublin in 2016 | Imagw: RollingNews.ie/Fine Gael

'Sexual apartheid'

Speaking earlier, Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell said women have been subjected to 'sexual apartheid' because of restrictive abortion laws.

She accused the church and State of historical collusion on issues like contraception and abortion.

Deputy O'Connell said when Ireland has been at its most Catholic, it has been its least Christian.

"The contraception ban meant that women would spend most of their adult lives pregnant, breastfeeding and protecting their children both in utero and out.

"All the while the church and the State were colluding to subjugate and inter fallen women in Catholic-run and State-subsidised prisons, punishing them for the sin and sex and the flaw of being female.

"Irish women were quite literally enslaved in an act of church and State collusion that could be honestly characterised as nothing other than sexual apartheid.

"Their babies were sold like puppies to foreign homes or enslaved in industrial schools, to be preyed upon by those in power-wielding authority".


Peter Fitzpatrick at he Fine Gael National Conference in the Slieve Russell Hotel in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan | Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Fine Gael's Peter Fitzpatrick said the work of the Oireachtas Committee was flawed, and did not reflect the pro-life argument properly.

He said the 8th amendment protects life.

"We cannot allow the baby in the womb to be described as nothing more than a clump of cells - which has happened too much to date.

"The other duty we have is to acknowledge the humanity of a tiny human being and to ensure that our laws do something to protect him or her from harm or attack".

Jan O'Sullivan speaking to reporters at Leinster House in 2017 | Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

'We have to leave our baby in a coffin in our car'

Labour TD Jan O'Sullivan read some of the Oireachtas Committee evidence, from a couple who traveled for abortion because of fatal foetal abnormality.

"If we have our car we can bring our baby home on the boat - this journey involves us having to go to a supermarket to buy freezer packs, and then we have to stop at regular intervals to open the coffin and change them so that we can keep our baby cold.

"We also have to leave our baby in a coffin in our car, covered by a blanket or in the boot, while we cross the Irish Sea".