SIR – It was a brave speech by FF leader, Micheál Martin, in the Dáil on how his views changed on the 8th amendment to the constitution as he learned of the different issues in relation to it.
He supports repealing the 8th amendment and the recommendation from a majority of the Oireachtas Committee on the 8th amendment for unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks in a report published after they heard submissions.
He added that an exemption be allowed in a later pregnancy for abortions in cases of foetal abnormality, which can sometimes only be seen in a pregnancy of over 12 weeks. Some may wish to continue with a pregnancy with a foetal abnormality for the baby’s life to continue in the womb until it dies naturally and that is a brave and compassionate decision.
Each person has their own ideas and views.
Other later exemptions could be allowed if an abortion has not happened in 12 weeks, and these could include cases of rape, incest and from tests which indicate a baby may be born with a severe physical or severe mental disability caused by poor brain formation or brain damage.
Abortion is not a nice subject. In the real world, women may not want a pregnancy and thousands every year go to England to obtain an abortion. But, to be honest, I would be sad to see abortion clinics in Ireland.
Some doctors and nurses, on grounds of conscience, may not wish to help with an abortion. An opt-out is needed in legislation to be included for them.
Contraception is key to preventing unwanted pregnancies. Accidents happen as it is human nature. Thousands of men are cavalier about contraception and expect the female to take responsibility and these men may not be bothered over an abortion.
Even with unrestricted abortion allowed to 12 weeks in Ireland; women and girls may still prefer to travel to England or the Netherlands to obtain one for privacy reasons.
The morning after pill from most pharmacies in Ireland is a great relief for women as an option to end a unwanted pregnancy in its first days and the abortion pill available in recent years is also a help for women who need to end a pregnancy. The abortion pill is not legal in Ireland currently.
I would never stand in judgment over any woman or girl having an abortion. I recognise it is not a perfect world. Life can be messy and human beings are not robots.
Micheál Martin has given his true opinion after much reflection and is facing criticism for saying it. It raises the question: do we want politicians to be honest on difficult issues or play the game to keep their seats? Sometimes people prefer fudging on issues.
In Ireland and the UK up to the 1960s, there were dangerous back street abortions and some women died as a result. One of the reasons why abortion was made legal in England.
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