- 20 Sep 16
“We need legislation that focuses on the health, welfare and bodily autonomy of Irish women.”
The constitution is precisely the wrong place to deal with something as complex as abortion rights. What was needed in 1983, and what is still needed, is legislation that focuses on the health, welfare and bodily autonomy of Irish women. The 8th amendment is particularly abhorrent in that it posits an equality of the most fundamental of rights between an embryo, even at the earliest stages of development, and the woman, of whose body it is a part.
“That position, I believe, is only possible within the context of a set of metaphysical fantasies that have thankfully been losing traction in this country since the dark days of the early ’80s. Unlike in the case of the marriage referendum, where I was pretty optimistic about the outcome, I think there is a strong likelihood we may be stuck with the 8th for a few years to come. I understand that the issues around abortion are complex and the fear of a fully liberalised regime is very real in a lot of people. And I don’t dismiss or disrespect that fear. It would be totally wrong to paint every person against repeal in the colours of the hardcore abusive and dishonest cohort who, for example, abused Tara Flynn or who knowingly dish out falsehoods to vulnerable women in clinics around the city. It might take a while before those genuinely concerned can be persuaded that the only way to a humane outcome – where, for example, a woman carrying a fetus with fatal abnormalities can be looked after with compassion in her own country – is by removing the 8th and legislating properly.”