Mr Martin outlined his position just 24 hours after the cross-party committee voted in favour of a series of measures to liberalise Ireland’s existing law.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner last night, Mr Martin said he believes “there needs to be movement on the issue of fatal foetal abnormalities” and that “I do not believe someone who is pregnant as a result of rape or incest should be forced to proceed with a pregnancy against their will”.
He said he intends “to study all submissions to the committee over Christmas, and will give a more considered view on their recommendations in the new year”.
“I have made it clear that I believe there needs to be movement on the issue of fatal foetal abnormalities and I do not believe that someone who is pregnant as a result of rape or incest should be forced to proceed with a pregnancy against their will,” he said.
While declining to fully endorse the Oireachtas abortion committee recommendations at this stage, Mr Martin’s decision to publicly vouch his support for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, rape, and incest will be seen as key to the upcoming Eighth Amendment referendum campaign.
This is because while Fianna Fáil has an official free vote policy on the issue, Mr Martin’s leadership is likely to influence the party’s middle-ground, which is expected to be key to any decision in the Oireachtas and by the public.
Meanwhile, several Sinn Féin sources have insisted the party will fully support the committee report when it is debated and voted on in the Dáil and Seanad next month, despite the fact that its three committee members had to abstain from a vote on abortion up to 12 weeks, as this went further than party policy.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, well-placed Sinn Féin officials said the party’s TDs and senators can still vote in favour, as any ballot will be about the report in its entirety, which will include a note on the fact that members Jonathan O’Brien, Louise O’Reilly, and Paul Gavan abstained on the 12 weeks motion.
They also said they can still campaign for a repeal referendum, as the 12 weeks issue will be part of subsequent legislation only if a referendum is passed.
Two Sinn Féin officials said the party will not need to update its party position
However, another official said the policy will have to be updated at an ard fhéis before the referendum.