A Cabinet minister has been accused of being over-confident in predicting the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment will be won by a comfortable margin.
Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath said he believes next month’s referendum will be carried 60% to 40%.
“I believe it will be 60- 40,” he told the launch of intellectual disability group Inclusion Ireland’s support for repealing the Eighth Amendment. “I know from my own constituency, Dublin Bay North, that would be the kind of view that I am getting. But can we be complacent? Absolutely not, we cannot be complacent it will be a tough debate, it will be a long campaign over the next couple of weeks.”
However, Cora Sherlock of the LoveBoth campaign said Mr McGrath sounded “very over-confident in his prediction of a win”.
“It’s possible he feels by talking up the proposal and its chances of success, his prediction will come to pass,” said Ms Sherlock.
“In reality, what’s more likely to happen is that as more and more people begin to realise that repeal means unrestricted abortion for a baby up to three months in the womb, they will see that this proposal discriminates against vulnerable children, and they will vote no. There is nothing ‘inclusive’ about abortion. On the contrary, every abortion ends the life of a baby and directly targets a vulnerable person who is deserving of protection.”
Mr McGrath said he is aware of women with disabilities who have had to go to England for an abortion.
“The reality is that it goes on all the time,” he said. “Particularly those who are parents of daughters with intellectual disabilities where they are involved in decision-making and capacity issues.
“The bottom line is it is the parents, the GP, and the people directly involved with that young adult with intellectual disability make the decisions.
“Yes, there are very tragic cases where they go to England. There has been issues of abuse in certain centres, it’s under the radar, but the bottom line is the GPs, the families, are saying: ‘Why should they be forced to travel over the England in crisis situations?’ ”
Inclusion Ireland has joined with the Together For Yes campaign to highlight the need for abortion care for women with disabilities.
Paddy Connolly, CEO of Inclusion Ireland, said the Eighth Amendment creates inequalities for people with a disability, adding that they need access to sexual and reproductive healthcare just like everyone else.
“To date, the voice of persons with disabilities has been largely absent from the public conversation on reproductive rights and people with intellectual disabilities need accessible information to engage in the debate,” said Mr Connolly.
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