‘I’ll Campaign for The Abortion Law To Be Changed and Liberalised’


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

In the realistic manner of Hulk Hogan.

He wrestled with his conscience.

In an interview on BBC Mr Varadkar said he believed the country’s current abortion laws were too restrictive and indicated he would support liberalisation.

He said “We will have that referendum, hopefully in the summer and we should be in a position to make a decision on that in Government next week.”

When asked if he will be campaigning for the abortion laws to be relaxed Mr Varadkar replied:

I’ll be campaigning for them to be changed and to be liberalised, yes”.

He was asked if his views had changed since 2014, when he said he was pro-life. He replied:

“I suppose in that period I think it’s fair to say that my own views on this matter have evolved but I think sometimes that term pro-life and pro-choice can be misunderstood, you know, I think even people who are in favour of abortion in certain circumstances are pro-life, you know. I still believe in life but I understand that there are circumstances under which pregnancies can’t continue.”


Over to you again, Micheál.

Taoiseach to campaign to liberalise abortion laws (RTÉ)


94 thoughts on “‘I’ll Campaign for The Abortion Law To Be Changed and Liberalised’

  1. mildred st. meadowlark

    I know that’s pure political mush from Leo, but that last bit about supporting abortion, or rather allowing women to make that choice safely whilst being pro-life makes a lot of sense, to me anyway.

    Taking a step back from the arguments and seeing that you can appreciate both sides of the debate. I know it’s incompatible for many, but it is certainly important.

    1. Brother Barnabas


      and I think his explanation will resonate with a lot of people who are still struggling to find a compatability or balance between being prolife while also accepting there’s a need in certain cases

      1. newsjustin

        Abortion is needed in a very small amount of cases, catered for in Irish law. Telling oneself that abortion is needed on demand up to 12 weeks of gestation and trying to claim oneself to be pro life is pure fantasy.

        It is the same drivel that people who are pro-death penalty and anti-abortion are rightly lampooned for.

        There’s no middle ground. Anyone campaigning for abortion on request up to 12 weeks is pro-choice and anti-life.

        1. Brother Barnabas

          can you personally be pro-life but still support others’ right to make the choice for themselves?

          1. newsjustin

            No. Because legitimising the abortion of human foetuses by ones vote is facilitating the ending of human life.

            It’s like saying, I’m pro life and against the death penalty. But I support my government using the death penalty. Aka nonsense.

          2. Brother Barnabas

            it’s not nonsense

            you can fundamentally support choice, free will, autonomy and minimal interference, involvement or control by church or state in all aspects of an individual’s life

            this would mean, for instance, you’d be in favour of legalisation of marijuana, which wouldn’t at all be inconsistent with you believing marijuana to be a dangerous substance that you personally wouldn’t go near

            your opposition to marijuana is overriden by your more fundamental belief that neither you nor the state has any right to interfere or obstruct other people’s right to choose

          3. newsjustin


            “….your more fundamental belief that neither you nor the state has any right to interfere or obstruct other people’s right to choose.”

            More fundamental belief is the important term there Brother. I believe that the right to life is a (the) most fundamental human right. Society cannot stand idly by while that right is trampled on (by whatever means and in whatever contect). I believe we all, as humans, have a responsibility to vindicate other’s right to life, especially those who are unable to protect themselves. I also believe society should protect these rights. As ours currently does.

          4. Martco

            May I ask just straight question to cut thru the academic arguments (and it’s not to stoke up any arguments etc. more to help me understand the severity of your viewpoint)

            if you were the father/mother of say a 14 y/o daughter who had suffered a rape became pregnant as a result & she upon discovering this wanted an abortion in whatever was most expedient way what would you do as her parent, practically speaking? would you assist her or block her? does your belief system override all?

        2. anne

          Why are all those women with fatal foetal abnormalities skulking off to the UK then? Or 14 year olds who were raped?

          Irish law as it stands is not catering for those people.

          1. newsjustin

            It is. It is, rightly, protecting them and their unborn babies.

            The fact that abortion is available in the UK is a tragedy for the UK and Irish women and unborn babies.

          2. mildred st. meadowlark

            I honestly hope you never have a daughter who is raped or goes through the awful situation of experiencing FFA.

          3. realPolithicks

            At this (early) point in the debate here on BS it appears to be pretty much “newsjustin” versus most other people who choose to comment. Newjustin has a very heartfelt and frankly well argued position, which I totally disagree with. Nothing she/he says is going to change my opinion in any way and I’m guessing that most people on my side of the debate feel the same way. It’s also clear that nothing that we say will change her/his mind. That being said how about we declare a truce because to see the same arguments fought out everyday is becoming (IMHO) tedious. Lets agree to disagree and move on. Btw I’m not calling for censorship, obviously if people wish to rehash the same thing everyday then have at it. I just feel that at this point it really doesn’t contribute anything useful to the debate.

          4. newsjustin

            I hear what you’re saying realPolithicks. And it makes some sense. I certainly don’t want to be “that guy”.

            But it’s not just commentators that read the comments. Other’s do too, who may not have such certain views.

            A “truce” effectively means an unending litany of pro-choice messages until May. Like the argument around Down Syndrome and abortions, these uncomfortable messages need to be reckoned with.

          5. Sheik Yahbouti

            Basically then, you (and your fellows) are conducting a campaign which will not cease until everyone else has been browbeaten into agreement. Thanks. I’m really looking forward to endless months of this.

          6. newsjustin

            I have no campaign. I don’t generate any of these posts. I’m just a person commenting and responding to other commentators.

          7. some old queen

            @ Newsjustin. That doesn’t mean you do not have an agenda. You are selective as to which posts you reply to.

            For ex. What you would do if you’re 14 year old daughter was pregnant from rape. Would you actively prevent her from having an abortion even though it was her expressed wish?

          8. realPolithicks

            “But it’s not just commentators that read the comments. Other’s do too, who may not have such certain views.”
            This comment suggests that you do have a campaign in that you are commenting in the hope that you may influence someone who is undecided which is fine of course but a bit disengenous. Also your comment that “A “truce” effectively means an unending litany of pro-choice messages until May” is frankly patent nonsense unless you are referring only to BS. The anti-choice side is loud and vociferous in pushing its point of view. Anyway here I am dragging myself back into this debate despite my previous comments, I guess thats how its going to be until the referendum is held.

          9. mildred st. meadowlark

            I agree. It’s very hard not to be drawn in. It’s harder still to be respectful to the other side of the debate when it’s such a heated and emotive subject. I think actually listening and taking on board the other side’s valid points, regardless of where you sit on this topic, is really going to be important.

            Whether we can actually do it is another matter entirely.

          10. Janet, I ate my Avatar

            It’s why I can’t comment on this
            It really winds me up and not sure until which point I could listen without losing patience.

          11. newsjustin

            I was referring just to BS.

            The point was made that debate was useless, as we will never change our views. I was just pointing out that some people haven’t made up their minds. So maybe it’s of use (or not) to them.

            If my 14 y/o was pregnant, I would, of course not want to abort my grandchild. Let’s get this clear, it would be a catastrophie and a crime and a grave violation. But the situation would not be improved by aborting a child.

          12. realPolithicks

            A question that I have is why is the argument being framed around someone becoming pregnant through rape or someone dealing with a FFA or DS, to my mind this is all irrelevant. What this referendum debate should be about is a womans right to choose what she wants or doesn’t want to happen in her life. I don’t have the right and neither does anybody else to tell a woman what she can and cannot do, it really is as simple as that.

        3. mildred st. meadowlark

          That’s utter nonsense. You can be ‘pro-life’ and still support giving women the option to choose.

          No woman WANTS an abortion. No woman conceives a child/foetus. whether planned or not, and thinks, yes, I’d only love an abortion now.

          Do you have any idea what kind of havoc an abortion, a miscarriage or even the morning-after pill can wreak on a woman’s body? It’s not exactly something you wish for.

          I support the right to life of every man, woman and child. I think the death penalty is abhorrent and think I should be allowed to choose to die before I go as mad as my poor dear nana who is wasting away in a home now.

          I also support women being given the freedom and tools to make an informed choice about her body.

          It’s very far from a black and white subject, as you are well aware.

          1. anne

            He’ll never know anything about a miscarriage or the morning after pill, or anything about women’s bodies, with being a man & all.. he has lots of opinions though about women’s bodies. He’ll never have any first hand experience.

            And soon enough him and his ilk will just have their opinions and women will be able to choose what’s right for themselves.

          2. newsjustin

            “You can be ‘pro-life’ and still support giving women the option to choose.”

            Of course you can’t. Saying it’s ok to abort the unborn, unless in the case where it’s needed to save a life, is not pro-life. It’s deliberately, knowingly and entirely anti-life. It’s made blackly comic by introducing the silly fig-leaf of 12 weeks.

            “I support the right to life of every man, woman and child.”

            Except the unborn.

          3. mildred st. meadowlark

            No, I think you’ll find I can.

            You may choose to see it in such black and white terms as that but I don’t. I can see why abortion is unthinkable for some, but I won’t condemn them for thinking it, or feeling it. However the laws
            as they are in this country DO condemn women for seeking a medical procedure that they should be entitled to.
            I’ve yet to meet a woman who would actively deprive another woman of her free will and choice to decide. Because we know that it’s none of our business. It is a personal matter.
            It is a necessary evil. You can’t deny it, and just because it is unpalatable for you that doesn’t make it less so.

            Women require access to abortion, safely and without stigma, and I think it’s about time.

            Boiling it down to a simple black or white issue does your argument no credit, and is unfair to the many women who have had abortions.

          4. some old queen

            Justin, you are entitled to your view but why do you feel the need to reply to everyone who has an opinion which is even slightly differing from yours?

          5. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            You think it’s murder, Justin. Fair enough. I understand why you think so.
            I don’t. Sadly, I’ve seen a few 12-week old foetuses. They’re not human life: they’re potential.
            Sometimes certainty of viewpoint is cruel. Life happens. Young teenage girls get violently raped by their Dads. I don’t see how either the foetus or young girl in that situation are helped by refusing an abortion.

          6. newsjustin


            “Because we know that it’s none of our business. It is a personal matter.
            It is a necessary evil.”

            The human rights of my fellow humans is, of course, my business. It is a personal matter, but

            a) it is a matter of human rights, which society is obliged to take an interest in and vindicate and
            b) we are specifically being asked to vote on the matter and some would have us give our direct consent to the removal of the right to life of a fellow human.

          7. newsjustin


            “I’ve seen a few 12-week old foetuses. They’re not human life: they’re potential.”

            So have I. They are entirely human. If they are not human, what are they?

            “I don’t see how either the foetus or young girl in that situation are helped by refusing an abortion.”

            Well it does help the foetus not be dead. There is that. We don’t execute rapists, as vile as they are, why would we execute innocent unborn babies because of who their father is?

          8. mildred st. meadowlark

            I don’t see you mentioning the person expected to actually carry and gestate the child. You know, the woman, or girl, in question. The one who will have to live with that horrible incident for the remainder of her life.

            Do you have any concern for them? It really does not seem to be the case. And that’s really, really sad. Why do the unborn get precedence over a living breathing woman with a life and a family?

          9. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            Well they can’t exist outside the womb. So in my mind they’re potential. After 23-4 weeks when they’re viable outside the womb? That’s human life right there. I don’t think that’s semantics. Though again I understand why you disagree.

            I’m not engaging with your ‘executing innocent babies’ argument.

          10. newsjustin


            So what’s the difference between a foetus that is 11 weeks and 4 days old, and a foetus that is 12 weeks and 2 days old?

            Why would it be permissible to abort one and not the other?

          11. cian

            It’s the same as the difference between 17-and-364-days and 18-and-1-day.
            An arbitrary age-point where different laws apply depending on which side you fall.

          12. newsjustin

            Exactly Cian. It is an arbitrary age limit.

            An arbitrary age limit below which you might be legally killed and above which you can’t be…for now.

          13. mildred st. meadowlark

            Were you wearing your Villainous Moustache™ when you wrote that?

            Because I’ll be strongly disappointed if you weren’t.

        4. Cu Cullan

          The whole point of being a human is that you have choice. It is factious to say that we should therefore all have the choice to commit murder. Because that’s not what the 99% of the race think to do. It is an anomaly. All women have the possibility of becoming pregnant. All women have a choice to continue or not. That is a fact of life, in fact that’s what life is. Laws make it more, or less, civilised. Nothing more. You are completely and absolutely wrong headed about the nature of existence that it is painful to witness. But that’s part of life too. I’m just glad to be living in a time when the more civilised part of society was in the ascent.

          1. newsjustin

            1 in 5 pregnancies in the UK aborted (for example) and foetuses with Down Syndrome being routinely discarded and Ireland clamouring to be part of that, does not indicate that we are entirely civilised yet.

          2. mildred st. meadowlark

            Stop bringing DS into this debate as though it’s a trump card or a shield. It’s not. In fact, it’s unfair and, I’m pretty sure that DS groups have already requested the people stop using DS as an argument for/against abortion.

            Perhaps address the issues raised, and you’ll have more success with your arguments. As it is, it reads (to me, at least) as deflection.

          3. newsjustin

            Pro choice people dislike the issue of the wholesale abortion of foetuses with Down Syndrome because it is a stark, factual reality that they can’t refute. I can understand why DSI are uncomfortable with the debate, but they do not have a veto on what is pertinent to the debate and what is not.

  2. Gabby

    But Vardakar stated some weeks ago that he would not announce his attitude on the repeal matter until a cabinet meeting scheduled for 30th January. What kind of psychological game is he playing?

    1. Zaccone

      In completely unrelated news a high profile, front page headline, Irish Times poll was released yesterday that showed 56% of the population in favour of repeal, and only 29% against.

      This definitely couldn’t possibly have had an influence on Leo’s announcement of a public position a day later.

  3. some old queen

    I think Leo’s comments are reasonable and reflect the view held by most. Apart from hurting a lot of people in the process, reducing this to a black and white shouting match serves no purpose.

    As for the timing, I wonder what else is going on in Davos.

    1. newsjustin

      Anyone campaigning for abortion on request up to 12 weeks is, of course, pro-abortion and anti-life.

      “Oh I’m a great defender of life, and the life of the unborn.”

      “Over 12 weeks gestation though?”

      “Yeah, well, of course, lol. Naturally. But 13 weeks, God, you won’t find a greater defender of life after 13 weeks. The 11 week ones…not so much.”

      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        You’re a great defender of hypocrisy. All the breast thumping and prattling on about the unborn means nothing while the 13th amendment is in place.

        If this referendum fails and the 8th remains, what do you plan to do about the several thousand Irish abortions the 13th amendment facilitates?

        1. Martin

          Not to mention that countless thousands of illegal abortions that take place in Ireland yearly from use of abortion pills.

          Can we expect the pro life groups to lobby the government to crack down and import and use?

          As we’ve seen the Gardai care nothing about a group of women importing pills via the train to Dublin at a media event, they didn’t touch them when they imported them or when one women took the pill at the event (they had no way of knowing if she was pregnant).

          Until the so called pro life groups lobby for a crack down it shows how little they care about the 8th.

          They claim the country is “abortion free”, it is nothing of the sort by any stretch of the imagination. They are happy for abortions to take place as long as they don’t see them.

          1. newsjustin

            I’m very open to finding ways of decreasing demand for abortion. And, Daisy, as we’ve agreed before, once the 8th is safe we’ll join forces to see if we can do anything about the 13th. Not to mention, supporting pro life groups in the UK and other jurisdictions.

            “They are happy for abortions to take place as long as they don’t see them.”

            No pro life person is happy for abortions to take place.

        2. Peter Dempsey

          Why do all the calls to restrict women from travelling for abortions seem to come from those on the pro-choice side?

          1. newsjustin

            It’s a classic “your solution won’t solve 100% of the problem, so I’m refusing to back it. Oh, btw, I don’t think there’s a problem anyway.”

  4. michael walsh

    Leo ‘indicates’ he will support liberalization.
    Yet, he supported Noreen O’Sullivan/Frances Fitzgerald to the hilt and to the end.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      His bedfellows in the parliamentary party must be riled that Varadkar said this in an interview to a british media lot. BBC. They were waiting for his pronouncement later this month so that they could go out with de party line. Can’t think for themselves obviously. The interviews today and tomorrow of FGers will be good.

      1. newsjustin

        It is remarkable how few FG TDs spoke in the Dail on this. Very cynical. Any TD with a backbone should speak their mind on the topic, instead of waiting for the Dear Leader and amending their consciences accordingly.

  5. Mensonge

    newsjustin, I promise you that when you become pregnant I will support you in your choice to bring the pregnancy to term or to terminate it. It’s your body, and I’ll support your choice.

  6. Paddy at the Howth Summit

    Fair dues. But what he should be pushing for is a removal of the issue of abortion from legal control at all and leaving it to women and their doctors to decide.

  7. More_Bermuda_than_Berlin

    Apologies if its been said already, but what about being “pro-voice”?

    Get the women who have had abortions and those who decided not to after travelling a journey and let the rest of us bystanders listen to those who have real insight.

    Without those voices the rest of us are bald men arguing over a comb

    1. More_Bermuda_than_Berlin

      Forgot to add, Leo Varadkar is Paul Howard’s version of Bertie Ahern. He’ll say whatever his advisors think will play well in the media, but he’s no where near as clever as he thinks he is.

  8. some old queen

    I said it before but I think it is worth reiterating. The core principle between this and the last referendum is exactly the same. Some people didn’t agree with SSM but still voted for it and there is no difference this time around. If anything it should be more so because half the population will never experience such a crisis.

    NOBODY wants to have an abortion and the idea that the protection of what is only the potential of life should take precedence over a woman’s health, and possibly current family, is fundamentally a religious view. It may not be overtly so but it is defiantly a personal belief. And we’ve had enough of that in the past… or if you look up north, still in the present.

    1. newsjustin

      “Some people didn’t agree with SSM but still voted for it and there is no difference this time around”

      The difference is the killing of innocent human foetuses.

      1. some old queen

        In response to a question about what you would do if your daughter was raped you said “If my 14 y/o was pregnant, I would, of course not want to abort my grandchild.”

        So you would prevent her from having an abortion? There is a mention of a grandchild so would you insist she keeps the baby too? If so that is an extreme position to hold.

        We can all hold up certain circumstances to justify our stance but yours is a view which is not in any way scientific. Are you religious Newsjustin?

        1. some old queen

          Oh and btw, I don’t think there is anything at all wrong with someone having a faith based view but I do feel it is quite disingenuous to present it as something else.

        2. newsjustin

          “…but yours is a view which is not in any way scientific.”

          What, specifically, in what I’ve said does not align with science?

          I’m religious. But I’ve never used religious arguments to oppose abortion as many people have different religious backgrounds or none. And the abortion is so easily and thoroughly picked apart with simple humanism. Not killing human foetuses is Humanism 101.

          1. Auto Corrupt

            Justin. I have watched with some admiration your fervour and energy on behalf of the Pro-Life lobbyists, activists and groups

            So I want to ask you this.
            If you really believe a child exists on conception, then why isn’t Children’s Allowance payable from that point?

            It is after all, a statutory entitlement, and available, without testing or query to all.

          2. some old queen

            You view human life to begin at conception right? That is a religious view with no scientific basis.

            I am calling out this attempt to frame the debate.

            We’ve been here before with SSM where until Panti Bliss took to the Abbey stage, homophobes were not allowed to be called homophobes. Now, it’s a ‘not everyone is a religious nut job’ but the truth is, the more religious someone is, the more likely they are to be anti abortion. Which is fine but the ‘get your rosaries off my ovaries’ slogan is still relevant.

          3. newsjustin

            “You view human life to begin at conception right? That is a religious view with no scientific basis.”

            It is not. Where is the scientific evidence saying that a unique human being is not created at conception? If not then, when is this unique human being created? At 12 weeks? Magically on its due date?

        3. Martco

          @SOQ – you have it there. @newsjustin IS an extremist…at least in theory anyway as it would be v.interesting to see what he would do if that hypothetical 14 y/o daughter situation ever befell him in real life! I’d have to hazard a guess that he has no children of his own however given his absolute position, at least I hope that’s the case.

          I have a couple of things to add –

          @SOQ be glad there’s democracy & focus on ensuring that anyone within your circle knows the difference between reasoned argument & absolutist emotive agenda driven nonsense when it comes to a referendum vote

          @newsjustin your view is very clear & you are entitled to it but the consequences of it are frankly dystopian to me & doesn’t represent a world that I want. And as the father of a little boy who has Down Syndrome I (& on his behalf) take offence to your apparent approval of the use of Down Syndrome in your argument. I know you do it out of desperation to provide a twist to try to prove a point, just like guts in a bucket it’s strategy. Maybe you should try putting all that energy you demonstrate into supporting the already born.

  9. newsjustin


    “….the consequences of it are frankly dystopian to me.”

    Compared to the utopian vista of no constitutional protection for the unborn. Where human foetuses my be selected for abortion on the basis that they have a cleft lip, have Down Syndrome, or are the wrong gender?

    No thanks.

    “And as the father of a little boy who has Down Syndrome I (& on his behalf) take offence to your apparent approval of the use of Down Syndrome in your argument.”

    Ok. Fair enough. I don’t think the wholesale abortion of foetuses with Down Syndrome is a fundamental part of the debate. But it is a very real impact of an abortion-positive regime. The fact that a lot of pro-choice people can’t countenance discussion of the facts of targeted abortion of foetuses with Down Syndrome tells you all you need to know.

    “Let’s have an open, fair and factual debate in the lead up to this referendum.”

    “No, no. Not those facts, obviously. Don’t talk about those facts. Talk about these statistics, not those other ones.”

    1. cian

      You seem to think that Irish people aren’t having abortions – for all the reasons you list. But they are.
      They have to order pills online and take them without medical support, or they have to travel abroad.

      But they currently are having abortions.

      Why don’t you talk about that fact? And how the 8th isn’t working to prevent abortions? It’s just making them more difficult.

      1. newsjustin

        “It’s just making them more difficult.”

        Which means there are far fewer than if abortion was made legal here. The 8th saves lives.

        1. Cian

          Not necessarily. Just because it is difficult means people won’t do it.
          If you compare the difference between arranging flights to UK + abortion versus actually having a baby, and raising it until they are an adult, you will see that one is a hell of a lot harder than the other. And people who aren’t ready to be parents will choose the ‘difficult’ option of going to UK.

    2. scottser

      The problem with 8th is that it equates the life of the unborn with that of the mother. Clearly, obviously and with the benefit of hindsight the position of equality is impossible to legislate for with any degree of fairness to women and families who for whatever reasons must go for termination. This question is bigger than prolife or not. It’s simply about being fair and that starts with the recognition that a mother’s life is far more important than her unborn foetus.

  10. :-Joe

    Welcome to 21st Century Oi’rland…..

    ….have you been to see the Guinness storehouse yet?…

    Ahh.. shure, tiz all grand…. so it is…


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