FINE Gael Minister of State Jim Daly’s admission – exclusively in last week’s Southern Star – that he was backing the repeal of the 8th Amendment, and abortion up to 12 weeks, received a lot of comment on social media this week.
The majority of comments were in favour of the junior health minister’s stance, but there were a few who disagreed.
‘Thanks for trusting women,’ one commentator said, responding to the article on The Southern Star’s Facebook page.
Admitting they were ‘no fan’ of Deputy Daly’s, another contributor said: ‘At least he is willing to let women have control over their own bodies.’
The word ‘respect’ was also mentioned a few times, along with a number of ‘thank you’s.
‘Good on him,’ said another responder, but there were also a few who didn’t agree with his stance, one person even claiming he was ‘committing murder’.
This is the full draft of Deputy Daly’s statement on the upcoming referendum:
‘Our primary responsibility as legislators is to deal with the issues and problems in our society.
When we turn away from difficult questions and seek ‘the quiet life’ we fail.
We fail politically and more important still we fail the people.
There is no such thing as an ideal solution to the complex human social, moral and philosophical issue of abortion.
But, one thing we can say with certainty on this uniquely difficult issue is that abortion is an every-day reality in our society.
Another is that we as legislators have a duty of care to respond to the reality where thousands of women, most on their own, travel for abortions every year and where thousands more, again often on their own, purchase abortion pills via the internet.
We also have a responsibility, to women, and their partners, to provide clear solutions to suicidal ideation and fatal foetal abnormality.
We can no longer hide from these problems.
Abortion is a day to day reality for young pregnant Irish women.
They deal with it in secrecy, without support from the state and in a manner that poses a threat to their health.
These are our partners, spouses, daughters, nieces and friends. I would urge every citizen to consider the issue of abortion arising within the four walls of their own family home, what law would you like to be in place to help your sister, daughter or loved one.
Do we want to continue to criminalise young girls who are taking abortion tablets behind closed doors such as their own bedroom or the school toilet or do we want a law to be in place to allow these women with crisis pregnancies to be allowed to seek professional medical advice to talk through their options in a safe and caring environment. Discussing the available options and alternatives such as adoption, fostering, counselling etc is a far more constructive and positive approach than the traditional turning of the blind eye to the everyday realities for thousands of Irish women.
As a citizen, let alone a legislator, I cannot condone the absence of a decisive response to this issue.
We cannot, if we are to have any moral courage as a political class, pull the ladder up, retreat into the clouds and hope this issue goes away.
The current unregulated abortion system poses a clear and present danger to tens of thousands of Irish women.
They are the silent Savitas the State has ignored for too long.
I believe as a legislator, a Minister, a citizen, a husband and a father, that the moral thing to do, no matter how politically difficult, is to deal pragmatically and caringly with this issue.
It is time to take our heads out of the sand.
It is time for honest open politics. I believe Irish people cherish Life more than most European countries.
I want to retain that progressive ethic. But I also believe they want Repeal of the Eighth. That, however, is the easy part.
Simply calling for Repeal and abandoning the issue of what sort of a regime we create is not leadership.
It is soft politics which fails to deal with the consequences
of our acts.
That is why I also support the Repeal the Eighth Committee’s recommendations on twelve weeks, on rape, on fatal foetal abnormality and the need for a GP led service.
I also believe, having read the medical testimony that twelve weeks is the minimum acceptable time frame.
Success in Irish politics, too often, has been defined by the capacity to disappear when a difficult issue approaches you in the corridor.
That politics of turning the blind eye and of nod and wink has been the ruination of the country.
We need politics with a spine not a soft underbelly.
Abortion is not a perfect solution, and no-one chooses abortion easily.
But, thousands of women and in some cases their partners do each year.
I am a practising Catholic, but I am also a legislator with a duty of care to serve all the people.
Forcing this issue underground is irresponsible.
This is a time to set aside personal preferences and lead.
Sweeping things under the carpet has always been a form of deferred moral bankruptcy.
Irish women are entitled to a safe and legal abortion regime.
Gambling with women’s health is not responsible politics.
It’s time to trust women; to trust doctors; to trust expertise.
The current proposals are as close as we can come to a just solution
We gave a Committee of the Oireachtas a job to do.
They finished it.
I am not going to undermine that work.
In conclusion, I believe making criminals of generations of young Irish girls has not served Irish women or Irish society well. I will be backing the repeal of the 8th amendment and if that is successful supporting the suggested 12 week limit in the genuinely and sincerely held belief that a caring and compassionate approach to crisis pregnancies will far outweigh the heretofore heavy hand of the law. These are my views on a matter of conscience. I don’t expect everyone to agree or accept them but hope at the very least people will choose to respect them.’