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17 May 2018

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Vote yes to support women facing fatal foetal abnormalities - Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD

"This constitutional provision outlawed the very medical care and intervention that these women and their families needed. I don’t believe that Irish people are prepared to stand over this situation any longer." - Mary Lou McDonald

As we move into the final week of the campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment, it is crucial for us to listen to the people at the centre of this debate.

This debate isn’t about politics and it’s not about who can outwit or out-shout their opposition.  This isn’t a contest as to who can craft the smartest argument or the most sensationalist narrative. This is about people and their families. This is about our law and our constitutional provision which criminalises tragedy.

Over the next week people will be considering their approach to the coming referendum. We need an informed and respectful debate.

At a Together For Yes event this morning, I heard from families who have been, or are being forced to travel for care in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities. It took these families to walk into the full glare of publicity to bring their own personal injustice to public attention, to give this matter the attention that it needed. 

The testimonies of families today rises above the din in this debate. The integrity, honesty and pain of their testimonies are beyond question. Their motive is only to do good and to make sense of their deep personal pain.

These women and families want their voices to be heard to address a deeply wounding wrong visited on them by this state – a wrong that is rooted in the 8th Amendment.

This constitutional provision outlawed the very medical care and intervention that these women and their families needed.

I don’t believe that Irish people are prepared to stand over this situation any longer.

I include in that those who have misgivings and deep reservations on the issues of abortion. I believe that these people too understand that the status quo is no longer tenable and that the 8th Amendment must be repealed.

Some families with the diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality will of course choose to carry that pregnancy to term and they need care and compassion and our full support. But for those who can’t, for those who made a different choice – we can no longer exile these women and their families.

Some have claimed that these tragic circumstances of fatal foetal abnormality can be sorted despite the presence of the 8th Amendment. Those making this assertion are wrong. What they say is misleading. What they said is untrue. 

I think that most people, even if nervous about change, know that change must come. There are many people who believe that something needs to change, but they still hold back from supporting the ‘Yes’ campaign.

The truth is, the only way the health service here can care for women who have become pregnant after being raped, or women who have been told their unborn child has a fatal foetal abnormality, is to repeal the 8th amendment.

I think that most people know that change must come, and the families bereaved by fatal foetal abnormalities need to be listened to and need to be supported. That is why the Eighth Amendment must go.

We would ask that you take time out of your day to watch this video from Together For Yes, illustrating the pain and distress of the 8th amendment on women who receive a devastating diagnosis of fatal foetal anomaly.

Click to watch this video here.

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • Don't miss your chance to get the first edition of 2019 published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of An Chéad Dáil and Soloheadbeg.
  • In this edition Gerry Adams sets out the case for active abstentionism, Mícheál Mac Donncha takes us back to January 21st 1919, that fateful day after which here was no going back and Aengus Ó Snodaigh gives an account of the IRA attack carried out on the same day of the First Dáil, something that was to have a profound effect on the course of Irish history.
  • There are also articles about the aftermath of the 8th amendment campaign, the Rise of the Right and the civil rights movement.

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An initiative for dialogue 

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Contributions from key figures in the churches, academia and wider civic society as well as senior republican figures

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