Recently, the Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment recommended that this amendment should be repealed and amongst other recommendations that termination of a pregnancy should be available without restriction up to 12 weeks. The Oireachtas is currently debating the committee's report and following this the Cabinet is due to make a decision on the recommendations. Although I am not a member of the Oireachtas as a public representative I would like to make my views on this matter known.
I support the recommendations of the Committee and I am of the opinion that the Government should use this as the basis for the referendum when it takes place.
This would not have been my view previously . However, I, like many others, have formed this opinion following the reports of the expert witnesses as well as the personal testimony given at the Committee and presented in the media as well as the stories we have all heard or shared in our personal lives.
I have come to the conclusion that with 3,625 women travelling to the UK in 2016 for an abortion and 1,642 abortion pill packages sent to Ireland, it is untrue to say we do not have abortion in this country. What we have is a regime that can be very dangerous for women and that does not support them when they are in very difficult circumstances. Our current laws do not prevent abortion, they simply force women to either put their lives at risk from unknown medication purchased over the Internet or, in very many cases with their partners, to to travel at great personal and emotional cost and seek termination of their pregnancy.
I am aware that this is a very personal decision for all of us, but I do think the recommendations of the committee deserve our full consideration in order to understand why they arrived at their final position. I would encourage everyone to read their final report. Available here.
Ultimately we are a democracy and everyone will make their views known in a private fashion through the ballot box . I hope that the debate will be respectful of all views particularly those of women and that the voices of women who have been affected by our current laws will be heard .