Government must be open to amending the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill – Mary Lou McDonald TD
Speaking in the Dáil this evening on the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD called on Oireachtas members’ to be open to amendments that will strengthen the legislation and ensure it reflects the rights secured by the people when they voted to Repeal the 8th Amendment earlier this year.
The Dublin Central TD said:
“For decades thousands of our women faced a lonely and traumatic journey to Britain to access abortion services. The shame imposed on women and girls by the Church, by politicians and by conservative elements right across Irish society was wrong and it was cruel.
“Since 1983 momentum against the deeply oppressive 8th Amendment to the Constitution grew in scale and in support. In truth Repeal was a campaign decades in the making.
“As with all major social change a long and arduous journey is followed by rapid social adjustment and change. The people led and the politicians followed.
“To all those who campaigned for abortion rights the introduction of this legislation is momentous. Whilst we are divided on significant issues in this Dáil we fought as one during the Repeal campaign. I want to commend the Government for its role in repealing the 8th Amendment.
“Today women will travel to Britain for an abortion. Their journey will still be unduly harsh despite the collective support expressed to them by the Irish people.
“Members of the Oireachtas now have a dual responsibility to these women. We must ensure that abortion services are available in Ireland from January next year, and that this legislation vigorously upholds those fundamental rights the people voted for in May.
“We must continue to hear the concerns raised by women, their families and the medical profession on the shortfalls of this legislation.
“We should to open to a constructive and informed conversation, and to amendments that will strengthen the Act in the interests of those who access abortions and the medical practitioners who care for them.
“This legislation will shape abortion services in Ireland for decades to come, and in practical terms this is a new strand to healthcare delivery. So we have to get it right.
“There are a number of specific issues which must be carefully considered including the three day waiting period, the discriminatory language of the legislation towards trans and non-binary persons and broader access to associated areas of care. The final Act must reflect the rights secured by the people earlier this year.”