By Dylan O'sullivan-
Ireland’s premier Leo Varadkar has urged his country to show some compassion as he launched a bid to overturn some of the strictest abortion rules in Europe.
Leo Varadkar wants to use next month’s repeal referendum as a coming of age moment when the nation stops abandoning those in crisis.
Draft legislation to be introduced following an approved referendum proposes unrestricted abortion access to women up to 12 weeks pregnant. The premier said the referendum was a once in a generation opportunity. Varadkaer said:
“In Ireland, we spent much of the last few years atoning for historic wrongs that were done to women, but truth be told, we still wrong women today.
“The Eighth Amendment does not prevent abortion. Nine women every day travel to other countries to end their pregnancies, often making that journey alone and in secret.
“And three women every day, and the number is growing, order abortion pills over the internet and end their pregnancies at home without medical supervision, counselling, support or advice”
A statement from Save the Eighth campaigners claimed the Taoiseach’s position was too extreme and said he had been unable to unite his governing Fine Gael party around his position.
Women travel abroad every day to have an abortion conducted because of the legal ban against terminations. The Taoiseach drew on the experience of rape and child incest victims during a speech in Dublin.
He said: “I am calling for a yes vote because I trust women and I trust doctors and instead of fearing the worst I choose to believe the best about us as a nation.
“I believe a yes vote will allow us to look our sisters, our friends and our families in the eye when for far too long we have looked away.
“Now is the time to change and to put compassion at the centre of our laws.”
Abortion is currently only available when a mother’s life is at risk, but not in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape or incest. Yes to the May 25 referendum would be the latest in a series of social liberalization measures which has seen divorce and same-sex marriage legalized in the Republic, and Mr Varadkar used past victories for modernizers to characterize those opposed to change as outdated.
He added: “In Ireland, in 2018 we still export our problems and import our solutions, and in the Ireland of 2018 we still turn a blind eye and a cold shoulder to our sisters, nieces, daughters, colleagues and friends when in need or when in crisis.”
The ballot will be on whether to retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment of the constitution, which means the life of the woman and her unborn child are seen as equal.
The Catholic church is among those campaigning for a no vote, because of their faith that God is the giver of life. However, opponents want to see women given the legal right to terminate unwanted pregnancies.