Abortion will be won 60-40, says minister; Save the 8th begins '12 weeks' campaign

The referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment will be won 60% to 40%, Minister Finian McGrath.

Speaking at an Inclusion Ireland event this morning, the Disabilities Minister said he is now "fairly confident" the abortion referendum will pass, but said there is no room for complacency.

Mr McGrath said: "I believe it will be 60 - 40. I know from my own constituency Dublin Bay North, that would be the kind of view that I am getting.

"But can we be complacent? Absolutely no, we cannot be complacent it will be a tough debate, it will be a long campaign over the next couple of weeks.

"But in fairness I think we have learned from the previous campaigns, it's more about facts and information now than spin."

However, he criticised those who have placed referendum posters close to schools.

"The one view that I am getting lately is from younger families about some of the posters up outside schools.

People are very upset, particularly parents of five and six-year-olds because they are being drawn into this debate, this debate is an adult debate.

Inclusion Ireland, the national association for people with an intellectual disability, this morning joined forces with the Together For Yes campaign to highlight the need for abortion care for women with disabilities.

The disability rights activists say the Eighth Amendment is about more than abortion for the women they represent.

They say that the Eighth amendment creates additional barriers to care, including inaccessible travel options for those who may need abortion services.

Disability rights campaigner Suzy Byrne says some disabled women are told not to get pregnant.

Ms Byrne said: "The 8th Amendment is about an awful lot more than terminating a pregnancy when it comes to people with disabilities.

"People are told 'don't get pregnant, because there is nothing we can do to help you'. And then contraception may not work in certain circumstances depending on your condition.

"You may not be able to take medication, because it may affect other medication that you have."

Paddy Connolly, CEO of Inclusion Ireland, said: “The 8th Amendment creates inequalities and for people with a disability it can further impede their sexual health and reproductive rights. Impediments such as inaccessible information, difficulty in travel, poverty, difficulty accessing medical treatment, including maternity services and access to contraception, place greater barriers in front of women with a disability exercising their reproductive rights.

People with disabilities need access to sexual and reproductive health, just like everyone else.

"The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Ireland recently ratified, affirms that right.

“To date, the voice of persons with disabilities has been largely absent from the public conversation on reproductive rights and people with intellectual disabilities need accessible information to engage in the debate.

"Inclusion Ireland invites all those who campaigned for ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to join the campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment.”

Mr McGrath said: “I believe in the equality of women in every area of Irish life - hence my support for the repeal campaign.

"Disabled people should always be free to make decisions about their personal and private life.

"This includes mobility issues in relation to travel and access to family planning services. All barriers to equality should be removed.”

Meanwhile, pro-life group Save the 8th has today started a new online campaign called "12 weeks".

It shows social media users a video of a scan of an unborn baby at 12 weeks gestation and asks if the unborn is deserving of constitutional rights.

The video will be promoted to Facebook users over the age of 18 in Ireland.

The group's Niamh Ui Bhriain said: “It is important that this debate is informed and that people have access to basic information. The Government is asking us to legalise abortion for any reason up to three months. In effect, the legislation proposed says that these babies are not human at all, and will have no rights.

"In that context, a fully informed debate need not show graphic images, or upsetting images. But it should show, at a very basic level, what a child in the womb at that age looks like. Every mother who has had a child in the modern era has seen one of these scans – but most voters have not.

"The scan shows clearly a developing child, with identifiable form of a human being, moving and kicking inside the womb.

"The Irish people are being asked to give their approval for a proposal that would allow such children to be legally killed. Many people believe that at 12 weeks, they are voting on 'a clump of cells'.

The simplest look at a 12-week scan proves this to be untrue.

Ms Ui Bhriain added: "We are calling on RTE and TV3 to include a video of such a scan in their television coverage of the referendum campaign. If they want a fully informed electorate, they will do so.”

- Digital Desk

By Elaine Loughlin
Political Correspondent

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