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Rights groups hit out after Micheál Martin declines to say if he supports abortion in cases of rape

TFMR Ireland called on Martin to “give us honest, complete answers” in relation to his stance on abortion.


ABORTION RIGHTS GROUPS and campaigners have criticised Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin after he declined to say whether he supported abortion in cases of rape and incest.

TFMR Ireland called on Martin to “give us honest, complete answers” in relation to his stance on abortion.

The group is made up of parents who received a diagnosis of a fatal or severe foetal anomaly during pregnancy, and campaigns in favour of chaining Ireland’s abortion laws.

Speaking on KFM yesterday, Martin would not say whether he supported abortion in any case. When question specifically whether he agreed with abortion “in cases of incest and rape”, Martin said:

“They’re not that simple in terms of issues but again I will look at all those issues.”

When pushed further on his stance, Martin said:

“Well it’s not that simple… It’s not a simple yes or no that depends on a number of issues.

I know people today who are alive whose mothers – in one particular case – was raped and she was the outcome of that. And she gets very angry when people suggest she should never have had a life.

Responding to Martin’s comments, TFMR Ireland wrote an open letter to him on the group’s Facebook page.

“We are women, we are mothers, we are daughters and we are sisters. We are men, we are husbands, we are partners, we are sons and we are brothers,” the letter begins.

We live in an independent, secular Republic in the European Union in the 21st Century, and quite frankly, we are concerned.

The letter calls on Martin to “provide honest, complete unambiguous answers” to questions on abortion. It then lays out specific examples of cases where an abortion may be sought by a person and asks Martin for his stance.

“You are going to be asked many serious questions and you owe it to all of us to give these questions serious consideration and give us honest, complete answers,” the letter states.

Meanwhile, the Abortion Rights Campaign called the comments by Martin “absolutely shocking”.

The Eighth Amendment 

The issue of abortion in Ireland and the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution – which grants to equal right to life to the mother and the unborn child – was recently the focus of the Citizens’ Assembly.

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The Assembly last month recommended that the Oireachtas should legislate for abortion and allow abortion without restriction in Ireland.

Voters are expected to be asked whether they support the findings of the Citizen’s Assembly in a referendum, and an Oireachtas committee is now being set up to examine how to proceed.

While most of the political parties have named who will sit on the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, only two members – Kate O’Connell and Catherine Noone – have been confirmed for Fine Gael.

It’s understood that if no one from the party steps forward to sit on the committee, the Taoiseach may resort to appointing TDs and senators to the committee.

Fianna Fáil have named their four TDs for the committee – Billy Kelleher, Lisa Chambers, James Browne and Anne Rabbitte. Senator Ned O’Sullivan is also expected to sit on the committee.

Brid Smith and Ruth Coppinger from Solidarity-PBP will be on the committee on a rotational-basis, while Louise O’Reilly and Jonathan O’Brien will sit on the committee, for Sinn Fein. Catherine Murphy of the Social Democrats will also be on the committee.

Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan, Independent TD Mattie McGrath and Clare Daly will also join the committee. It’s understood other members in the mix include Independent Rónán Mullen and Alice Mary Higgins.

Read: Taoiseach gives first response to Citizen’s Assembly vote, says committee now being set up>

Read: Poll backs Citizens’ Assembly on abortion but rejects minister’s maternity hospital promises>

About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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