'The Constitution has no role to play in terms of medical care for women' - Michael Creed

By Elaine Loughlin, Political Correspondent

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has called for a yes vote in the upcoming referendum.

However, he refused to be drawn on any legislation that may be introduced if the people vote to repeal the eighth amendment.

Speaking in Dublin, Mr Creed said it is now time to trust women and their doctors.

"My own journey on this I suppose is that having watched all of the debate and the campaigns it's abundantly clear to me that the blue book, in terms of the Constitution has no role to play in terms of medical care for women going through pregnancy, that is best left to women and their caring physician."

He was joined by former IFA president Eddie Downey, Lorna Sixsmith who is the “Irish Farmerette” blogger & author and Green Party agriculture spokesperson Pippa Hackett.

Mr Creed who has previously expressed reservations around the 12 weeks unrestricted abortion said it will be a "redundant issue" if the referendum does not pass on Friday.

"At this stage my motivation is to make sure that we reach a situation where the legislature is asked to deal with the issues around the legislation.

"The Government have published the outline of the legislation, I don't intend to tempt fate, the first hurdle that we must clear in respect of this issue is to remove Article 40.3.3 - the eighth amendment - and then we can discuss in detail the legislation and the form that may take," he said.

eanwhile, the Taoiseach has called for a high turnout in Friday’s abortion referendum.

Leo Varadkar urged employers to allow workers time off to vote as the country goes to the polls on repealing the Eighth Amendment of the constitution which restricts access to the procedure.

If the country votes yes the Government intends to allow terminations within the first 12 weeks, subject to medical advice and a cooling-off period, and between 12 and 24 weeks in a restricted fashion.

Mr Varadkar said: “I do hope in this referendum we will see more people taking part in this, an exercise in democracy.”

He said some voters were still undecided.

“Ultimately laws are just written in black and white, they are text in a piece of law but what has to be behind those laws is individuals, people’s families and how those laws have affected them in the process.”

He encouraged people to consider some of the real, lived experiences of some who dealt with Ireland’s restrictive abortion law.

Mr Varadkar said people were illegally accessing abortion pills and travelling abroad for procedures anyway and it would be better to regulate it in a compassionate way in Ireland.

The Taoiseach said if people voted yes the proposed laws would mean a 72-hour period for women to reflect on their decision to have an abortion before the procedure goes ahead.

He told the Dail in Dublin that women would be able to receive an abortion pill from their doctors following an informed decision.

“This is a good example of new politics working, listening to citizens, cooperating on an all-party basis and then putting a proposal to the people.”

Mr Varadkar said abortion rates in Ireland were falling and less women were travelling abroad for the procedure. Teenage pregnancies were at their lowest rate since the 1950s.

He attributed that to state funding for crisis pregnancy centres, sex education in schools, wider availability of contraception and the morning after pill.

Mr Varadkar said it was ironic that those most opposed to the law change were those who had also opposed all the measures which had made abortion less common.

- Additional reporting by PA

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