The Love Both campaign said it would be willing to use a no vote as a “starting point” towards more liberal abortion laws, despite failing to explain how solutions could be found.
Speaking to reporters at one of the group’s final press conferences before Friday’s referendum, consultant obstetrician Dr Trevor Hayes said the Eighth Amendment must be retained.
He said while the amendment strictly prohibits abortion, it may be possible to find solutions to “exceptional cases” without removing the 35-year-old rule.
“The Government had an opportunity to draft legislation for the exceptional cases. They chose not to, they went on a very liberal and radical journey of abortion on demand up until 12 weeks and a British-style abortion up until 24 weeks.
“If, on May 25, a no vote arrives, it will be a possibility that we could go back to the drawing board for some legislation for the exceptional cases.”
Asked for examples on how rape or fatal foetal abnormality cases could be catered for without removing the Eighth Amendment when it was pointed out that the Cabinet, a cross-party committee, the Citizens’ Assembly, and two attorneys general have all ruled out the possibility, Dr Hayes said it is up to the Government to “come back with a proposal”.
When it was put to him that pro-choice campaigners have described his argument as an attempt to sow confusion in the days before the vote, he said: “No, it’s not true. That’s not true.”
Dr Hayes was speaking on a fast-moving day which saw the Love Both campaign bus arrive in north Co Dublin and the group hold an event in Dublin city centre urging people to protect the Eighth Amendment.
It said the Government should focus on financial supports, adoption services, and childcare instead of abortion.
Separately, the Save the 8th group and UCD student Katie Ascough also called for a no vote, while the Doctors for Life campaign said removing the Eighth Amendment will create an “extreme” abortion system.
“Abortion is never necessary to save the mother’s life and is not a known treatment for any medical condition,” said Dr Deirdre Gleeson.
Meanwhile, it emerged the Catholic bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Alphonsis Cullinan, urged local priests to use material scripted by the Pro Life Campaign at Masses last weekend, encouraging people to vote no on Friday.