Both sides ramp up campaigning in final days before Eighth Amendment vote

Today marks the last full day of campaigning before the broadcasting moratorium

Both sides ramp up campaigning in final days before Eighth Amendment vote

Health Minister Simon Harris speaks to the media at the Together for Yes billboard launch in Dublin. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

Both sides in the Eighth Amendment referendum debate have been taking part in the final full day of campaigning ahead of the broadcast moratorium.

Several events were held in the capital this morning and afternoon, with the final television debate due to take place on TV3 tonight.

On the Yes campaign trail, Health Minister Simon Harris, Tánaiste Simon Coveney and several cross-party TDs and senators gathered for a billboard launch in the capital.

Separately, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed joined members of the ‘Farmers for Yes’ group.

Minister Creed is calling for repeal, but has refused to say how he would vote on the proposed legislation allowing abortion without restriction up to 12 weeks - saying he doesn't want to tempt fate.

At the event, farmer Lorna Sixsmith explained why she's voting Yes, suggesting: "It's not right that my cows can get better healthcare and more compassion from me, my husband, my family and our vet than pregnant women who are in crisis can get in Ireland."

"I'm not a choice"

On the No side, an event organised by the Love Both campaign heard from people whose lives they say have been saved by the Eighth Amendment.

Mary Kenny said she first considered getting an abortion when she got pregnant aged 19.

She observed: "My baby Holly is alive because we do not have abortion on demand in Ireland today.

"When you vote on Friday, please think about her and all the other lives that are here because of the Eighth Amendment - the Eighth Amendment protects lives."

20-year-old student Gavin Boyne, meanwhile, said he’s grateful his mother changed her mind about an abortion, suggesting: "I'm not a choice - I'm not someone's choice. I'm a human being with value.

"[The Eighth Amendment] has been such a success, and I owe my life to it."

"I can't stand back at this stage"

At another 'Yes' event earlier today, a woman whose daughter took an abortion pill says she never wants any other mother to go through what she has.

Elaine Bedford says her daughter Kate nearly died two years ago because of complications with her diabetes.

The 25-year-old then became pregnant unexpectedly, and opted to take the pill because her health was being put at further risk.

Elaine says she was prevented from calling for a doctor even though her daughter was bleeding and losing consciousness.

She said it was a terrifying and traumatic experience.

Explaining why she is voting 'Yes', Elaine told reporters: "I can't stand back at this stage and let any woman look at that fear in their daughter's face, in their daughter's eyes... or have that daughter feel so guilty that she's done something wrong... or have that mother feel that guilt that she's helped her daughter do something wrong, when she knows in her heart that she did the right thing."

Today also saw No campaigners accuse RTÉ of trying to interfere with last night's Prime Time debate, following a behind the scenes row between the broadcaster and campaigners in the hours before the televised debate.

RTÉ insisted it provided an "equitable and fair opportunity to both sides".

Polling stations will open at 7am on Friday.

The broadcasting moratorium comes into effect from 2pm tomorrow afternoon, and will last until polls close at 10pm on Friday.

Reporting by Paul Quinn, Juliette Gash and Stephen McNeice

There will be extensive coverage of the referendum count on-air and on throughout the day on Saturday May 26th