Royal wed­ding shows that mar­riage still mat­ters – Michael Kelly –

Irish Independent - - News -

and com­pas­sion for many women at what is one of the tough­est mo­ments of their lives.

The law to­day de­mands we try to force a woman to carry a preg­nancy to term ir­re­spec­tive of the im­pact on her health, or if she was raped, or if she has re­ceived a di­ag­no­sis of a fa­tal foetal ab­nor­mal­ity.

And ev­ery­one needs to un­der­stand that there is no pos­si­ble way for this to change if the amend­ment re­mains.

The leg­is­la­tion proposed by the all-party com­mit­tee which will be en­acted if there is a Yes vote is highly reg­u­lated and is nowhere near the type of leg­is­la­tion which op­er­ates in Eng­land.

It is a bal­anced pro­posal which re­flects med­i­cal re­al­ity and en­cour­ages women to en­gage with med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als.

It has been claimed that the lim­its and reg­u­la­tion proposed in the leg­is­la­tion can’t be trusted and that ef­fec­tively there will be no lim­its. This is en­tirely wrong.

Five years ago, it was claimed abor­tion on de­mand was be­ing in­tro­duced be­cause lim­its in that leg­is­la­tion wouldn’t be re­spected.

Those claims turned out to be false. Women and their doc­tors have fully re­spected the strict lim­its in that cur­rent law – and they will re­spect what­ever law is in­tro­duced.

I fully un­der­stand how uneasy many peo­ple are with the choice to be made next Fri­day. I, too, am some­one who has only come to a con­clu­sion through a long and chal­leng­ing process.

For me, the big­gest im­pact has come from talk­ing to women about sit­u­a­tions they have faced be­cause of the cruel in­flex­i­bil­ity of our Con­sti­tu­tion. And this isn’t some­thing which is found only in part of our coun­try – ev­ery­where I have gone in re­cent months has in­volved women and cou­ples, of­ten well into re­tire­ment, ask­ing me to lis­ten to their story and what our cur­rent law has done to them or some­one they love.

It is they who have per­suaded me there is no way we can stop the harm which has been done to them while re­tain­ing the Eighth.

Each of us has a per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­cide where we stand. This doesn’t have to be with­out reser­va­tions but it does have to be based on an hon­est re­flec­tion about what the choice is.

ANO vote will mean there will con­tinue to be a long stream of cases through our courts taken by women fac­ing ex­treme sit­u­a­tions. There will con­tinue to be thou­sands of Ir­ish abor­tions ev­ery year with no en­gage­ment with med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als.

There will con­tinue to be a rising num­ber of un­su­per­vised and un­reg­u­lated abor­tions tak­ing place here with the use of abor­tion pills.

In con­trast, a Yes vote will en­able a sys­tem where the first con­sul­ta­tion a woman fac­ing a cri­sis has is with a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional who can sup­port her and out­line dif­fer­ent choices.

It will pre­vent women from be­ing forced to go to Bri­tain.

It will en­able a sys­tem which is reg­u­lated, safe and hu­mane.

Faced with this choice, my per­sonal de­ci­sion is to vote Yes next Fri­day.

Micheál Martin is the leader of Fianna Fáil.

A pro-choice demon­stra­tor in Mer­rion Square, Dublin. Photo: Niall Car­son/PA Wire

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