Minister for Mental Health: Gambling with women’s health is not responsible

The possibility of unrestricted access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if the Eighth Amendment is repealed has moved a step closer after another Government minister said he is backing the plan.

Minister for Older People Jim Daly confirmed he will vote in favour of 12 weeks if the Dáil is asked to vote on the potential new law after the referendum, saying that despite his Catholic faith the issue can no longer be pushed “underground” to the detriment of the “silent Savitas” in Irish society.

In a detailed statement released by his office yesterday morning, the Cork South West TD said that after considering the issue and reading the Oireachtas abortion committee’s evidence he believes the Eighth Amendment is not helping Irish women.

Saying the country “can no longer hide from problems” like the widespread use of abortion pills and the fact “abortion is a day-to-day reality for young women”,

Mr Daly said that as a husband, father and legislator he cannot oppose the possible changes.

While acknowledging he was proud to be “a practising Catholic” he added that “gambling with women’s health is not responsible politics” and that the “moral” action at this stage was to support both repealing the Eighth Amendment and the potential new 12 weeks access rule.

“Our primary responsibility as legislators is to deal with the issues in our society. When we turn away from difficult questions and seek ‘the quiet life’, we fail,” Mr Daly said.

“As a citizen, let alone a legislator, I cannot condone the absence of a decisive response. 

"We cannot, if we are to have any moral courage as a political class, pull the ladder up, retreat into the clouds and hope the issue goes away. It is time to take our heads out of the sand. 

"I am a practising Catholic, but I am also a legislator with a duty of care to serve all of the people. Forcing this issue underground is irresponsible,” he said.

Mr Daly’s decision to back both repealing the Eighth Amendment and the potential new 12 weeks rule means he is the only pro-choice TD in Cork South West, where both Independent TD Michael Collins and Fianna Fáil TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony are both avidly pro-life.

Mr Daly’s support also means that 58 of the Dáil’s 158 TDs are now publicly backing both repeal and 12 weeks — a figure that will rise to 79 if Sinn Féin changes its 12-week policy — meaning the potential post-referendum legislation will not be defeated.

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