Kelleher backs Eighth Amendment move

It is no longer acceptable for women to be treated as “second class citizens” and to be forced to fly abroad for terminations or take abortion pills, said Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher.

It is no longer acceptable for women to be treated as “second class citizens” and to be forced to fly abroad for terminations or take abortion pills, said Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher.

Delivering a speech on the abortion referendum, the health spokesman said that asking women to FedEx home remains of a dead baby in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities was “inhumane”.

The Cork North-Central TD said he had left his personal views at the door, after hearing testimonies in the Oireachtas committee which has recommended reforming the Constitution.

A number of opposition figures in the Dáil debate backed recommendations to remove the constitutional prohibitions on abortions.

Mr Kelleher said it is no longer acceptable that women be treated as “second-class citizens”. He also called claims that women use abortion as some type of a contraceptive are “deeply offensive”.

Every night, four or five women take abortion pills in Ireland, he said, and 10 women got on planes to access terminations abroad.

Mr Kelleher said he is “open” to suggestions about any follow-up legislation.

There are mixed views among TDs on committee recommendations to allow — in the event of repeal — unrestricted access to abortion for pregnancies up to 12 weeks.

Addressing the issue of couples having to travel abroad in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, Mr Kelleher said the idea of asking parents to FedEx a baby’s remains home is “inhumane”.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said clinicians had made it clear the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution had jeopardised women’s health

“It is now the time to right a fundamental wrong that occurred in 1983,” she said.

It is time for a human rights-based Constitution that acknowledges women as full people, she said.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said the Constitution is not the place to determine laws on abortion. He backed recommendations for unrestricted access to abortions.

“How can we achieve the objective of many to allow for abortion in the case of rape or incest in any other way?” he said.

“It cannot be that we need a police investigation and court prosecution to have concluded before determining an abortion to be lawful.”

In the Seanad, Rónán Mullen (Ind) said if the Constitution is changed, it would remove the protection of unborn life.

Senator Paul Coghlan (FG) said Ireland should not go down the road of Britain where, he claimed, some 9m abortions had taken place.

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