Together For Yes calls for special Dáil sitting to pass abortion laws

The group says women will have no choice but to travel until the laws are enacted

Together For Yes calls for special Dáil sitting to pass abortion laws

Yes campaigners with their posters celebrating at Dublin Castle, 26-05-2018. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

Updated 16:10

The Together For Yes campaign group is calling on the Government to legislate for abortion as quickly as possible.

The group is warning that despite Friday’s emphatic vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment, little will change for women in Ireland until the legislation is passed.

This afternoon the campaign called for the legislation to be enacted before the summer – and if that proves impossible; for politicians to return for a special sitting during the summer holidays.

Co-directors of the Together for Yes campaign (l to r) Orla O’Connor, Grainne Griffin, Ailbhe Smyth in the RDS count centre in Dublin, 26-05-2018. Image: Leah Farrell / RollingNews

Together For Yes co-director Orla O’ Connor said there are still women in Ireland who will have no choice but to travel for abortion services until the new laws are introduced.

“There are at least nine women today being forced to travel,” she said.

“So while the Eight is removed, the situation hasn’t changed for those women and they are making those really difficult journeys and facing the trauma that we spoke about during the Referendum.

“I think the scale of the ‘Yes’ vote has to put an urgency on Government to do this.

“The statements by our Taoiseach and the Minister for Health Simon Harris were very welcome yesterday but now we need to absolutely move forward and bring this to an end as quickly as possible for women and lets provide abortion care here in Ireland for women at home.”

She noted that the Eighth Amendment referendum was unique – as the people were effectively asked not only to vote on the Amendment itself, but the legislation that would follow.

“In Together For Yes, we are calling on the Government to move next week to start to progress the legislation - and we want to see it enacted before the summer recess,” she said.

“If that requires a special sitting, then that is what needs to be done.”

Repeal

On Friday, the public decided by a two-to-one landslide to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the result as the culmination of a 'quiet revolution' in Ireland over recent decades.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris will on Tuesday ask his Cabinet colleagues for permission to begin drafting the legislation.

Leaders from around the world have today been reacting to the result.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with the Taoiseach and congratulated Leo Varadkar and his team on the result.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Ireland had once again made history.

While the British Prime Minister Theresa May described the result as an impressive show of democracy.

On the Referendum Review with Ivan Yates this morning, the Chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Dr Peter Boylan says a barrier between patient and doctor has been removed.

“The vast majority of terminations are done at less than nine weeks,” he said.

“In which case, a woman would visit her GP, make a decision and then go away and come back and taking the Eighth Amendment out removes a barrier between the patient and the doctor.

“Now, when you come on to terminations beyond 12 weeks; they are only for where there is a serious risk to the health of the woman.”

Mandate

Speaking yesterday, the Taoiseach said the strength of the ‘Yes’ vote gives the Government a mandate to press ahead quickly with reform.

“Listening to the arguments on both sides over the past few weeks, I have to say I was struck by what we had in common rather than what divided us,” he said.

“Both sides expressed a desire to care for women in a crisis. Both sides wanted compassion and both sides wanted to respect human life.”

"Take our hand"

Yesterday Minister Harris said Ireland has a new message for women facing crisis pregnancy.

“Up to this point we have been saying, ‘take the plane’ or ‘take the boat,’” he said.

“We are now saying ‘take our hand ... we want to be able to care for you with compassion in our own country.'”

Describing the Eighth Amendment as a "failed experiment," Minister Harris said the vote illustrates a more compassionate Ireland.

Campaigners for the ‘No’ side however have warned that their struggle against abortion will go on.

LoveBoth spokesperson Cora Sherlock tweeted to say that the “struggle to defend the most vulnerable has not ended today, it's just changed.”

Northern Ireland

Meanwhile, the vote has fuelled calls for abortion laws in the North to be reformed.

British Prime Minister Theresa May would have to override opposition from her Democratic Unionist Party allies in order to reform the law.

She is facing calls from members of her own Cabinet to push for change while devolved Government at Stormont remains suspended.

However, her Conservative government relies on the support of the DUP – which has insisted Northern Ireland will not be “bullied into accepting abortion on demand.”

Emphatic

The result of the Eighth Amendment Referendum was emphatic in the end - with the Yes vote at 66.4% and 33.6% voting No.

Donegal was the only constituency to return a ‘No’ vote.

Some 1.4 million people around the country voted in favour of repeal – a majority of 706,349 votes.