Call for restrictions on abortion pill websites

Caroline Simons.

Opponents of Friday’s referendum have claimed that the Government is “using” the threat of abortion pills and should demand that Google bans websites allowing Irish people to buy the illegal drugs if it is serious about the dangers of the pills.

The Love Both campaign insisted that there is an alternative way to tackle the issue than the removal of the Eighth Amendment, and accused Health Minister Simon Harris of “cynically using” the abortion pills issue to scare people into voting yes.

Speaking at an pro-life event just four days ahead of from referendum day, Love Both campaign spokesperson and legal advisor Caroline Simons said the debate is being misused by yes campaigners.

Raising the question of abortion pills, Ms Simons said Mr Harris is “cynically using” the issue when alternatives to removing the Eighth Amendment are available if he wishes to use them.

“We are not talking about banning websites as such. We are simply talking about restricting abortion pills in Ireland,”said Ms Simons, adding that it could also “resource customs authorities to intercept them [the pills]”.

The comments were made as former taoiseach and Fine Gael leader John Bruton said he is opposed to abortion under any circumstances — including rape, fatal foetal abnormalities, and other traumatic situations — as life begins at conception.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Today With Sean O’Rourke programme, Mr Bruton said many victims of rape will want to keep the baby, fatal foetal abnormality pregnancies should be carried to full term, and that life starts at conception.

“I’m not in favour of exceptions,” said Mr Bruton. “They’ve [the Government] come forward with a proposal that removes the protection of the right to life of the unborn entirely.”

Mr Bruton later said that he does not believe a woman should be allowed to have an abortion even if she has been raped, adding that while the trauma of rape “is awful, it’s not as final as killing somebody, and unfortunately when you end a life that is the end”.

Meanwhile, the Love Both campaign has launched a video fronted by Independent Fingal councillor Keith Redmond which highlights their concerns. It is part of a new Twitter campaign called #toofarforme.

They also delivered a “blank cheque” to Government Buildings to underline what they say will be the complete removal of abortion restrictions if a yes vote wins on May 25.

Separately, former trade union leader David Begg sparked Labour activist anger by saying he is opposed to repealing the Eighth Amendment.

“We could agree to increase overall levels of taxation to provide the supports and services,” former Irish Congress of Trade Unions general secretary Mr Begg said in comments that were later criticised by Labour leader Brendan Howlin.

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