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Varadkar says 14-year penalty for abortion pills could be enforced in the future if No vote prevails

The Taoiseach today ruled out the chance of a second referendum being held.

Leo Varadkar out canvassing this morning.
Leo Varadkar out canvassing this morning.
Image: RollingNews.ie

LEO VARADKAR HAS said it is only “a matter of time” before a woman in the Republic of Ireland is prosecuted under Irish law for having an abortion.

The law “hasn’t been enforced yet, but it could be enforced in the future”, the Taoiseach said while out canvassing in Dublin this morning.

He told reporters today that there have been cases in Northern Ireland where women have been charged for taking abortion pills.

A woman is currently being prosecuted in Northern Ireland for helping her 15-year-old daughter procure abortion pills online after a doctor at a clinic where she had sought advice reported her to the police.

In 2016, a woman was prosecuted for taking abortion pills after her flatmates reported her to the police.

“Sadly if the law remains the same and there is a no vote then it is probably only a matter of time,” he said.

He added that the 14-year penalty is “very severe”.

“The penalty for taking an abortion pill is worse than the penalty for rape, believe it or not,” he added.

He said this has to be the case as the Constitution states under the Eighth Amendment that the right to life to the unborn is equal to the right to life of the mother.

“Therefore the penalty has to match that,” he explained.

While out canvassing in Dublin this morning, the Taoiseach ruled out the chance of a second referendum on the issue.

If the referendum is defeated, the government will have to respect the will of the people, he said.

While he said he would not be happy with a no result, he told the media today that he is a democrat.

“I have to accept the outcome of referendums and elections.”

“No, not in the foreseeable future, certainly not under this government or under this Dáil,” he responded when asked if another vote could be held in the near future.

Fine gael 596_90544904 Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Despite some talk of the No vote winning out, the Taoiseach said he has faith in the Irish people that they will make the “right decision”.

I am confident it is going to pass. I have great faith in the Irish people to consider all the issues to make the right decision. Essentially I think the majority of Irish people will do is put themselves in the shoes of a woman facing a crisis pregnancy and once you do that and think through what that must feel like, how difficult that decision must be, then the only way to vote is to vote yes.

The Taoiseach made his comments today while out canvassing with his fellow ministers at Tara Street Dart Station in Dublin.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

The station, however, was rather quiet this morning and the few commuters who were making their way to work were surrounded by the media.

In a bid to speak to more people, the Taoiseach, Minister Simon Harris and Arts Minister Josepha Madigan decided to stroll towards O’Connell Street, stopping people on the way.

PastedImage-92270 Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Varadkar only met two No voters. There were no in-depth discussions of the issues, but everyone was civil.

Outside a doughnut shop near the train station, the Taoiseach met one woman who told him that one minute she thinks she will vote Yes, but then she changes her mind and thinks she might vote No. She told Varadkar she plans to sit down soon and read through all the literature on it.

“Let’s hope you drum up support,” another man told the Taoiseach, who said he plans to vote Yes, and will be encouraging others to also.

PastedImage-90678 Source: Christina Finn/TheJournal.ie

Making his way back towards Leinster House for his Cabinet meeting, the Taoiseach stopped into Trinity College. Again, it was quiet.

Students are in the middle of their exams but Varadkar stopped to chat to two students who told him: “We’re voting Yes. We’re all voting Yes.”

“Glad to hear it,” replied the Taoiseach.

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