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Fianna Fáil leader backs repeal of 'harmful' law on abortion

19 January 2018

"If a family is told of a fatal abnormality during a pregnancy, the law, as it stands and as it is required to be under the Eighth Amendment, says that they can do nothing", he added.

Mr Martin said he supported the logic and the basic approach proposed by the committee.

During his opening statement, the Fine Gael TD said it was important to recognise the "sad reality that we have been exporting this issue", before bringing attention to new figures which showed that 3,265 women travelled to the United Kingdom from Ireland for an abortion in 2016. Martin said in his speech that "if our views change, if the facts become clearer then we must be willing to act accordingly".

"Each crisis pregnancy is different and each involves a real woman facing a very hard and very personal decision".

"Because it has not and can not change the reality that abortion is a present and permanent part of Irish life".

While opinion polls show a large majority of voters want some change, little polling has been done so far on whether terminations with no restrictions should be allowed for up to 12 weeks.

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"And because it prevents us from responding in a humane way in order to help women in the most traumatic situations".

"Retaining the 8th amendment will not make Ireland a country without abortion".

"I support the idea of a time based cut off towards the end of the first trimester".

And he said provisions should be made for cases of fatal foetal abnormality and serious threats to the health of the mother.

The second day of the debate was laden with emotional and personal accounts of how individual house members had come to their decision.

And while two of Clare's Oireachtas representatives agree that there is a need to repeal the 8th Amendment, Independent TD Dr Michael Harty and Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway have expressed differing views.

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"Their babies were sold like puppies to foreign homes or enslaved in industrial schools to be prayed upon those in power wielding authority".

Fine Gael's Peter Fitzpatrick said the work of the Oireachtas Committee was flawed, and did not reflect the pro-life argument properly.

"We can not allow the baby in the womb to be described as nothing more than a clump of cells - which has happened too much to date".

I'll admit to being in a bit of a quandary about our forthcoming referendum on the abortion issue and I suspect too that there are a lot more people like me, tossing around many conflicting issues in their heads.

Minister for Health Simon Harris opened a two-day Dáil debate on repealing the Eight Amendment where he detailed the 3,625 people who travelled to the United Kingdom for abortion in 2016.

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Fianna Fáil leader backs repeal of 'harmful' law on abortion