‘A Cold Place For Women In The Most Terrible Circumstances’


This afternoon.

The Davenport Hotel, Dublin 2

An address by Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin to a Lawyers 4 yes meeting.

There are just over two weeks left before polling in this referendum. By the time it is over this will have been one of the broadest and most detailed referendum debates we have ever held.

In many ways the campaign began in January when it became clear that the Oireachtas would support the proposal adopted by the all-party committee.

I believe that the logic and core humanity of the all-party recommendations have absolutely withstood scrutiny.

These recommendations involve a regulated regime which reflects medical reality and address the clear failure of the present law to provide even basic care and compassion for many women at what is one of the toughest moments of their lives.

Since I made my personal statement in the Dáil I have visited many parts of the country and have talked to hundreds of people about the referendum. For those who have disagreed with me I have met a very open and respectful tone.

However the most common reaction I have had is from women of all ages telling me of their own experiences and how important it is for them that Irish society hears their voice.

All of the evidence is that the public is becoming very well informed on the issues at hand.

It can be very difficult to see through a passionate debate – particularly when faceless groups are appearing and spreading dishonest and offensive material.

However I believe that people are intelligent enough to see through this – and I would encourage everyone to focus on the materials provided by reputable and officially registered groups as well as the Referendum Commission.

I believe that people increasingly understand that abortion is an everyday reality in Ireland. There is no option available to make Ireland abortion-free.

What we are being asked to do is to remove a 35 year-old provision in the constitution which has not only failed to make Ireland abortion-free it has inflicted considerable harm.

There have been many attempts to change the tone and outreach of support services. There have been many court cases and attempts to slightly alter the impact of the amendment.

But what has become clearer and clearer is that 8th amendment hasn’t worked because it cannot work.

In fact it has quite obviously increased the likelihood of difficult circumstances becoming a crisis for pregnant women. At the very core of the 8th amendment is a judgement and a completely inflexible one at that.

The 8th amendment hasn’t made abortion the last resort, in fact it has made abortion the only option for many women.

Faced with a deep crisis the first consultation the woman has is often with the internet, to find flights and addresses rather than with a medical professional here who can outline different options and ensure proper and safe care.

There is persuasive evidence that the liberalisation of abortion laws in some countries has actually led to a decline in abortion rates.

This makes complete sense because reduced pressure and an increased engagement with support services creates choices which are simply not there otherwise. There is no reason why this could not be the case in Ireland as well.

The specific proposals of the all party committee provide for a new approach where we can help women in Ireland faced with terrible situations which simply cannot be addressed while the 8th amendment remains in the constitution.

The law as it stands demands that 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 it is essential people understand that there is no possible way for this to change if the amendment remains.

The Supreme Court has held, and left no room for doubt, that a constitutional prohibition must be reflected in the policy of the state, in its primary law and in its criminal code.

There is no discretion and there is no way of thinking that we can address these cases without removing the 8th amendment.

It has also been suggested 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.

We should all remember that five years ago many people claimed that 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 law – and they will respect whatever law is introduced.

I deeply understand how uneasy many people are with the choice to be made on Friday May 25th. For a lot of people, including me, coming to a conclusion has been a long and challenging process.

Each of us has a personal responsibility as a citizen to decide where we stand.

This doesn’t have to be without reservations, but it does have to involve a frank and honest look at the reality of Ireland today and in the future.

A No vote on the 25th will mean that nothing will change. There will continue to be a long stream of cases through our courts taken by women facing extreme situations and identified only by a letter of the alphabet.

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.

A No vote will mean that Ireland will continue to be a cold place for women in the most terrible circumstances – and we will continue to be confronted by case after case of cruel insensitivity.

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 enable a system which is regulated, safe and humane.

It will bring to an end the failures of the 8th amendment.

As a citizen I have made my decision. I will be voting Yes and I will continue to talk about the need for the change which can only be secured by voting Yes.

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30 thoughts on “‘A Cold Place For Women In The Most Terrible Circumstances’

    1. Gringo

      Crocodile tears from a worried FFailure who wouldn”t know a regulated system from an expenses form.

      1. Brother Barnabas


        can’t disagree with what he says, but only because it was written by a PR consultant after a focus group

        martin’s every bit as offensive as varadkar

  1. Seth Cohen

    Of course on Broadsheet, even if an FFer says something that the readers agree with, the the small minded broadsheet commentors rush to run it down. The comments section here is filled with SocDems and Shinners… well done Micheál can’t be easy in FF.

    1. Brother Barnabas

      that’s the most stupid comment I’ve read all week (it’s only wednesday, mind)

    2. Daisy Chainsaw

      Even broken clocks are right twice a day. They don’t get praise for it.

    3. Bob

      If only Martin was gone and the old legacy could finally be swept aside and then maybe just maybe we could think that maybe Fianna Fail might be different.

      Maybe with a new generation of Fianna Fail we could begin to believe their words are not entirely motivated by their desperation to be in power again.

      Not that I expect any of the old Fianna Fail supporter to understand any of that.

      1. ReproBertie (SCU)

        31 FF TDs and Senators had their group photo taken last week as part of their campaign to Retain the 8th. There’s a lot more that Mícheál Martin to get rid of.

        1. mildred st. meadowlark

          That’s a lot of antiquated thinking. It shows the calibre of politician FF are fond of.

          1. Brother Barnabas

            cant imagine anyone with any genuine integrity would be a member of FF (or FG)

    4. Frill the 8th

      Ah calm de’ feck down Set
      This is the only speech of any relevance or substance he has given since this Dáil commenced
      And t’was to a bunch of Solicitors collecting cpds

      And that’s saying sum’ting since the lad is the leader of the opposition – which happens to be the majority,
      And a former Minister for Health, Minister for Education, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Minister for Enterprise Trade an’ whatever yer having yerself

  2. Frill the 8th

    … Abortion is an everyday reality in Ireland…
    …those claims turned out to be false …

    Is all he needs to say
    Or anyone else shuffling and posturing for the cameras

  3. Peter Dempsey

    So because Michael Martin is voting yes, you’re all going to vote no because of 1) Builders 2) Bankers 3) Men in suits 4) Capitalism 5) Massgoers etc

    1. Joe

      I hope people aren’t going to be foolish and cast a No vote as protest against a political party. that would be utterly idiotic. vote as you personally want to vote, it’s a referendum not an election.

    2. Brother Barnabas

      seth’s comment didn’t stay top of the stupid chart for long

      well done, peter

  4. newsjustin

    “All of the evidence is that the public is becoming very well informed on the issues at hand.”

    Which is why the Yes vote is dropping in every poll.

    “There is persuasive evidence that the liberalisation of abortion laws in some countries has actually led to a decline in abortion rates.”

    Except for England and Wales, obviously.

    1. Derrynane

      ““There is persuasive evidence that the liberalisation of abortion laws in some countries has actually led to a decline in abortion rates.”

      Except for England and Wales, obviously.”

      Think about that.

      1. SOQ

        Why is England and Wales different? Is it to with the stats before and after perhaps? Or the fact that it was introduced so long ago?

  5. filly buster

    pity he didn’t care this much about women when the ladies from Drogheda needed his help all those years ago.

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