Saturday, 22nd September 2018
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In under four weeks time this government will hold a referendum where they propose to remove the Eighth Amendment, protecting the right to life for women and the unborn in the Irish Constitution. The government want to replace that with "The government may legislate for the provision of termination of pregnancy"

Recently the Supreme court ruled that the only protection for the unborn child is the 8th Amendment. The Joint Oireachtas Committee recommended "that the law should be amended to permit termination of pregnancy with no restriction as to reason provided that it is availed of through a GP led service delivered in a clinical context as determined by law and licencing practice in Ireland with a gestational limit of 12 weeks".

This goes beyond the position in the UK where 2 doctors have to form an opinion in good faith and yet there is one abortion for every four births a staggering and horrific statistic.

By introducing abortion on demand we will be creating more pain and more problems, not solving them. Abortion doesn't make pain go away, it's not a medical treatment nor is it a treatment for depression or abandonment. The only thing abortion does is to take away the life of the baby.

My real concern is that the Government's plan for GP lead abortion without putting any supports in place for women in difficult pregnancies is a 'quick fix' designed to paper over the deeper cracks. The lack of consultation with GPs prior to this announcement is deeply worrying.

The Taoiseach says he would like to see abortion become rare, if that is true, why hasn't he invested in our woefully underfunded mental health services? If the Taoiseach cares about 'compassion' why hasn't he or his Minister for Health put forward any plan to give counselling services to women who desperately need a professional to give that much needed listening ear?

Ireland has undoubtedly become a kinder place, and less judgmental or critical to women in difficult circumstances. We know that an unplanned pregnancy is not the end of the world anymore and there are so many support options available for women.

Positive options exist for a woman in difficulty, they are just underfunded and under discussed. Wouldn't it be great as a society if we were spending the same time and resources improving our adoption services? I meet many people with heartbreaking stories of the hardship involved with overseas adoption, wouldn't we be a kinder country if instead of introducing abortion we focused on finding homes for all our children here in Ireland?

This week, I attended a launch of a series of proposals to offer real supports to women in difficult circumstances.

Two types of investments are required. One is an investment in a more compassionate and caring society. This means that we must change our attitude from one of judgement to support.

The second area of investment must be in physical resources, this is where the government must step in. Unlike the generous responses of the Irish people to women, the response from the Government has been to distract with constant talk about 'compassion' and to ignore the chronic underinvestment in maternity services. Investment in perinatal hospices is essential to give parents the help and supports they need to deal with the challenges they are faced when their baby has a life limiting condition.

One of the clear scandals of our era is that women find themselves homeless during pregnancy, no woman should ever have to endure homelessness, unfortunately this is now happening. Being pregnant and homeless simply adds to the sense of despair, loneliness and isolation.

Now is an opportunity to build a truly supportive society for women and children, future generations will judge us on how we protect life at this critical moment. We have made progress in how we support women during pregnancy, but we still can do much to truly cherish both mother and her unborn child. Introducing abortion on demand will not make this a more compassionate society, it will just copy the mistakes made in England. Abortion will not protect women or help them, it will harm them, in my opinion.

I will be voting 'no' to the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

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