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Sinn Féin votes for abortion to be allowed in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities

Delegates spoke passionately both in favour of and against the motion.

Updated: 17.20

SINN FÉIN HAS voted in favour of allowing abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

As motion 122 passed, motions 123 and 125 – about not allowing abortions in this circumstance, and calling a woman’s reproductive rights “entirely” a matter for her, respectively – fell automatically.

Screenshot 2015-03-07 at 10.33.19

Screenshot 2015-03-07 at 10.32.17

At the party’s Ard Fheis, delegates also voted for the 8th amendment of the Constitution to be repealed.

It reads:

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

Earlier, Mary Lou McDonald spoke in favour of both motions.

Sinn Féin’s deputy leader said that couples who are told their baby has a fatal foetal abnormality go through “unspeakable trauma”.

McDonald said it was “the absolute entitlement of those women, their partners and their families” to “full care … every support and, above all, choice”.

Sinn Fein Sit Ins at Dail Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

She said that some one women who find out their child has a fatal foetal abnormality will choose to carry their pregnancy to term, but for others this would be “unbearable cruelty”.

McDonald added that by taking the choice of a termination away from these women makes them “endure even more trauma”.

The decent thing, the right thing, and the republican thing is to support motion 122.

A female delegate from Derry said she found it “hard to believe that in 2015 there are people here who want to decide what I get to do with my body”.

‘I was told my son wouldn’t survive outside the womb’

The party’s health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said it’s “long-past time Sinn Féin faces up to its responsibility where a couple is confronted by the tragedy of fatal foetal abnormalities”.

A male delegate spoke against the motions saying “just because other parties rush this [issue], doesn’t mean we have to”.

He said no one had the right to end the life of a child.

Immediately afterwards, another man told the crowd: “I’m not in favour of abortion.”

He went on to say his view had to change when he and his wife were told their son, Christopher, had a fatal foetal abnormality in 1986.

He simply would not survive outside the womb … I’m asking you to put yourself in this position. End this unjust suffering for couples in Ireland.

Gerry Adams

When speaking to reporters yesterday, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams refused to be drawn on which way he will vote. However, he did note it’s “a very necessary” discussion.

In the end, Adams backed the motions.

Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, added that when people go through “traumatic experiences” such as fatal foetal abnormalities, “political parties have a duty and a responsibility to deal with those situations”.

McGuinness recalled meeting Sarah Ewart – a woman who was carrying twins with fatal foetal abnormalities.

“It was one of the most heartbreaking meetings,” he said, adding: “That represents a real challenge to all of us – to be compassionate.”

Protest

Earlier today pro-life campaigners gathered outside the conference.

SDLP Antrim Borough Councillor Brian Duffin (right in above tweet) said he is protesting because “the greatest war we have is in the womb of the mother”.

We have to start where God left off. Our Lord said that ‘before you formed in the womb, I knew you’ so conception is a gift by God to the woman. Anybody who contravenes that is acting as an anti-Christ, which is Satan. Abortionists are Satanic.

Yesterday, several pro-choice campaigners called on Sinn Féin to vote in favour of abortion on demand.

Rebecca Bor (second from right in tweet) from the Derry Alliance for Choice said the group wants “full self-determination for women” and for abortion to be legalised “both in the south and north”.

Follow @orlaryan and @TJ_Politics for updates  from the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Derry this weekend.

Originally published: 15.11

Related: What exactly is Sinn Féin’s policy on abortion?

Read: Lou says Alan Kelly has her ‘quaking in her stilettos’

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Órla Ryan

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