Abortion Referendum Date Set
The referendum on the Eighth Amendment will take place on Friday, 25th May. The date was confirmed by the government after legislation allowing for the vote passed through the Seanad by a majority of 40 to 10. The announcement officially kick-starts an eight week campaign.
Health Minister Simon Harris, who plans to introduce legislation allowing abortion on demand if the referendum passes, said the campaign will be “very close”. “It’s only kicking off", he said, “I think for many people they’re just beginning to think about the issues and these are deeply personal, private issues and I would imagine you’ll have conversations around kitchen tables and in the privacy of sitting rooms."
Speaking at the conclusion of the Seanad debate, Senator Ronan Mullan warned Mr Harris that he would not get away with doing “one on one” radio interviews. He said both sides “need equal time in the media” so that the “real problems with this very unjust proposal” can be exposed.
Within hours of the referendum date being confirmed, the Save the 8th campaign was officially launched in Dublin. Campaign leader Niamh Uí Bhriain said a Yes vote would be a “horrible and tragic mistake”.
She said politicians are asking people to trust them and are “effectively seeking a licence to kill”. “The public cannot trust politicians with the right to life in the womb,” she said, adding that “there have been more flip-flops in the Dáil than on the average beach”. Mrs Uí Bhrian said Tánaiste Simon Coveney has had “four distinct positions on abortion”.
Also speaking at the launch, Dr John Monaghan, a consultant obstetrician, said he believes there is “no medical evidence to get rid of the Eighth Amendment”. He said he had delivered between 4,000 and 5,000 babies during his career and had never been prevented from protecting a woman’s life by the Eighth Amendment. Dr Monaghan said many doctors like him are pro-retain and he said others who are campaigning for repeal were giving “their personal views, not professional”.
Nurse Marie Donnelly said abortion was not healthcare and she would give up her career rather than take part in an abortion. She said the Government plan for abortion “will add an intolerable strain to an already broken service”.
Vicky Wall, a mother who lost her baby soon after birth, also spoke, saying “we are being asked to sanction every abortion in Ireland for people like me ... I for one and others will not stand by while our suffering is used to inflict death on perfectly healthy babies”.
Those wishing to vote in the referendum should ensure that they are on the electoral register by 8th May. Those eligible for a postal vote must apply to their local authority by 28th April.
Irish Independent. March 29. RTÉ. March 29. Citizens’ Information.