JOSEPHA MADIGAN IS to lead Fine Gael’s campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
Madigan, the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, was chosen as the campaign’s coordinator by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Varadkar said Madigan “will work with Health Minister Simon Harris, other Fine Gael representatives and with Together for Yes to advocate for a Yes vote and ensure that Irish people have the facts and can make an informed and compassionate decision at the end of May”.
A referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment, which gives equal constitutional status to the mother and the unborn, will be held on Friday 25 May.
Varadkar said the vote will give Irish people “the chance to make a positive change to our Constitution; to trust women and trust doctors”.
“If we don’t remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution, nothing can change for Irish women. Only by securing a Yes vote can we provide women with the care they need here in Ireland, without fear of breaking the law,” Varadkar said.
Nine women travelling per day
Speaking about the campaign, Madigan said: “We know that at least nine Irish women travel to avail of abortion services abroad every day and this does not include those who are receiving abortion pills in the post they bought online, without any medical support or guidance. We can no longer continue to ignore these facts.
This is a women’s healthcare issue. We know that the Eighth Amendment has not prevented abortion in Ireland. We have abortion here, it is just unsafe, unregulated and unlawful.
Madigan added that the current system forces women and girls who have been raped or diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormalities to travel abroad to avail of abortion services. “It is inhumane to expect women who find themselves in these circumstances to do so,” she said.
In December, the Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment – which was tasked with examining the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on the subject – voted in favour of repealing the Eighth. It recommended for abortion without restriction to be legal up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Cross-party members came to the majority-decision after hearing testimony from medical and legal experts, as well as personal stories, over the course of three months.
Pro-life organisations and members of the committee repeatedly accused it of being biased as the majority of witnesses favoured repealing the Eighth Amendment. Senator Catherine Noone, the committee’s chairperson, and other members have denied these allegations.