Taoiseach says 'No' vote could see women being prosecuted for taking abortion pills

He highlighted cases in Northern Ireland where women have been prosecuted for buying the pills

Taoiseach says 'No' vote could see women being prosecuted for taking abortion pills

Leo Varadkar canvassing outside Tara Street station in Dublin this morning. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The Taoiseach says if there's a No vote in the Eighth Amendment referendum it will 'probably only be a matter of time' before women are prosecuted for procuring terminations.

Under current law "intentionally destroying unborn human life" can result in a maximum jail term of 14 years, but it is not enforced.

However, the Taoiseach says with abortion pills now available over the Internet unlawful terminations are regularly happening in Ireland.

Leo Varadkar observed: "[The law] hasn't been enforced yet, but it could be enforced into the future.

"There have been cases in Northern Ireland, for example, of women who are prosecuted for taking the abortion pill. Sadly, if the law remains the same, if there is a No vote... that is probably only a matter of time [here]."

The Taoiseach was speaking this morning as he and several Cabinet ministers gathered in Dublin to canvas for a Yes vote ahead of the referendum next Friday, May 25th.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, meanwhile, rejected suggestions that the Oireachtas should not be trusted with abortion legislation.

Repealing the Eighth Amendment in the referendum would mean the Oireachtas would be able to legislate for abortion.

Minister Flanagan said: "I think the argument that you can't trust politicians is something that has damaged politics right across Europe, and in parts of the United States of America... leading to very great tensions at the root of the democratic system.

"It's wrong: we have a mandate to govern, we are trusted in that regard. If we can't trust our politicians to legislate, who can we trust?"