CORK South West’s first woman TD has confirmed that she is ‘very, very pro-life’ and is not in favour of repealing the eighth amendment.
Margaret Murphy O’Mahony TD (FF), who was elected in February, has said that the question of the eighth amendment of the Constitution ‘is probably a red-line issue for me’.
Her comments follow a UN ruling that Ireland subjected a woman carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, which violated her human rights.
The view held by Ms Murphy O’Mahony is a personal one, but it reflects her party’s unwillingness to repeal the controversial amendment. There is, however, a commitment in the Programme for Government to set up a citizens’ assembly within six months to consider all the issues involved.
The eighth amendment, which was passed by referendum in 1983, gives equal right of life to the mother and unborn and effectively outlaws abortion in Ireland except in cases of risk to life of the mother, including suicide.
The death of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year old dentist who died on October 28th 2012 at University Hospital Galway due to complications of a septic miscarriage at 17 weeks’ gestation, led to passing of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013.
The Act was supposed to clarify matters but in 2014 ‘Ms Y’, a 14-year old asylum seeker who had been raped, was denied an abortion and forced to carry her baby. Since then the issue has been debated, but not definitely decided.
Within the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, TDs and senators do not have to toe a particular party line. One new FF TD, Lisa Chambers, has called for the eighth amendment to be repealed saying she favours abortion in circumstances of fatal foetal abnormality, rape and incest.
Margaret Murphy O’Mahony believes Ireland’s abortion laws should be maintained despite the recent UN ruling.
Appearing on an Irish Independent podcast, she said: ‘I think that everyone is entitled to a life. I know there are a lot of crisis pregnancies. Nobody expects anybody to bring up a child that they can’t bring up or they feel they are not able to. But there are so many childless couples waiting for children.’
Her own two sons, John and Philip, are adopted from Russia and Romania and this helped form her view on the issues. ‘It really opened my eyes to childlessness, which is an issue that never comes up in the abortion debate.’
The TD said she may campaign against the repeal of the amendment, which gives equal rights to a mother and her unborn child, if there is a referendum in the future.
When asked whether she would offer any leeway in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, she asked: ‘But who can tell how long a baby is going to live? No doctor.’ Deputy Murphy O’Mahony declined to comment when contacted by The Star.