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Joan Burton: Our abortion laws do not serve women well

The Tánaiste and Labour leader has reiterated her opposition to the 8th Amendment.

Joan Burton
Joan Burton
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE TÁNAISTE HAS said that Ireland’s current abortion laws do not serve Irish women well and has reiterated her opposition to the 8th Amendment.

Joan Burton was speaking in the wake of the emergence of a case of a woman in Mullingar who is being kept on life support – against her parents’ wishes – because she is pregnant.

“In my view the eighth amendment does not actually serve women well when issues of their life, their safety, their health, are in question,” Burton told reporters today.

The Mulligar case is due before the High Court next Tuesday. Burton said that while she did not want to comment it was “very hard for that particular family with what they’re going through” at Christmas.

The Labour leader said the case was an example of cases that “throw up the most agonising and difficult dilemmas”.

“At the centre of that will inevitably be young women and the babies that they’re carrying. So it’s an incredibly difficult issue,” she said.

Expanding on her views she said that she personally and the Labour party were opposed to the 8th Amendment to the Constituon which enshrines to equal right to life of the unborn.

She added: “We said it was wrong to put it into the constitution, but the people of Ireland in their wisdom decided differently – and that’s their prerogative in any referendum to make a decision as they see fit.

“Now, if my daughter, or my nieces, or anyone in my circle, my friends, my family, my neighbours, is facing a pregnancy and the pregnancy and the delivery become very difficult, thankfully in Ireland our maternity services are pretty good, very good, but we all know that difficult situations arise.

“And actually the people that I want to see around the bed are the doctors, not the lawyers. And the notion that to get appropriate medical treatment you basically have to go to a lawyer to get to your doctor, I think that as a society we have to ask ourselves a fundamental question, hold on, is this right? It’s a very difficult debate. There are no easy answers on this.”

Burton acknowledged that the issue was a difficult one for Fine Gael and “for the Taoiseach personally”.

Originally published 1pm

Varadkar: Abortion issue is ‘never going to go away’

Read: Court proceedings started in case of pregnant woman on life support

 

 

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Hugh O'Connell

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