TV3 hosts final TV debates on abortion referendum

The final TV debate on the abortion referendum is taking place tonight on TV3 who are airing two hour-long programmes on the issue.

First up is the Pat Kenny Show, where Maria Steen will join Senator Ronan Mullen on the No side to debate against the Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty and Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty Ireland.

Maria Steen has said in the debate: "What the Government has proposed is an extreme law, stripping every right in the Constitution for the unborn...taking away the right to life for the right to kill."

The Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty, then hit out at the No side for not providing alternatives to abortion, saying: "The reality is that they haven’t been willing to look or support anything in 35 years.

"No woman makes a decision to terminate a pregnancy lightly. It is usually the option of last resort. We are proposing to ignore them if we vote No on Friday. These are Irish women in crisis."

Ronan Mullen then denied that mental health is valid grounds for an abortion, saying: "Mental health has no evidence base".

Pat Kenny then asked Ms Steen: “Maria, do you go along with your colleague that mental health is not health?” to which Mr Mullen said: “You’re misrepresenting me.”

Ms Steen said: "The Government is asking us to do is to become judge and jury over the lives of babies in the womb."

Colm O'Gorman said: "The 8th amendment has not stopped abortion, it has stopped some abortions, but it has forced others to continue pregnancies.

"Abortion care is healthcare, do we want to care for women at home or do we want to dismiss and send our women abroad?"

Mr Mullen then told of a woman who didn't opt for an abortion.

He said: "This woman told me 'the time it took me to arrange an abortion in England is the time it took for me to change my mind'."

Ms Doherty then pointed out that the 72-hour period proposed in the draft legislation will provide a cooling off period for women.

Pat Kenny then went to the audience for their views and a woman called Saoirse Long explained how she was one of Ireland's women who had to travel to England for an abortion.

Mr Mullen told her: "You deserve love and respect despite what you may have done."

In the concluding statements each of them had a minute to sum up their case.

Mr Mullen said: "If we bring in abortion, we are looking at abortion clinics in Ireland.

"I have come across clinics in the UK where they have performed abortions at 23 weeks, with an injection into the baby first. This is not healthcare."

Ms Doherty said: "I am pro-life, I have four beautiful children. I would love all those people who are pro-life to consider how we treat women who cannot get treated in their own country, with respect.

"Irish women deserve to be treated fairly and at home."

Finally, Ms Steen said: "Women who need their health looked after deserve better than an abortion. We think this is a step too far, we all thing taking the rights of all unborn children is fundamentally unjust."

Following that, The Tonight Show with Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates feature Fianna Fáil leader Micháel Martin, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald, No campaigner Declan Ganley, and barrister Theresa Lowe.

It follows on from RTE's Prime Time debate last night which featured Health Minister Simon Harris on the repeal side against Peadar Toibin on the No side.

Both sides in the Eighth Amendment referendum debate have been taking part in the final full day of campaigning ahead of the broadcast moratorium.

Several events were held in the capital this morning and afternoon.

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