Athlone based senator, Gabrielle McFadden has voiced her support for repealing the Eighth Amendment. The Fine Gael representative made her feelings known during a speech she delivered in The Seanad last week.
Senator McFadden said it is a decision she has come to after much personal thought and reflection, and called for a meaningful and respectful debate to take place around the topic.
“When we listen to debates on the issue of abortion, we so often hear the voices of the zealots at either end of the spectrum, people who hold entrenched views and who believe that anyone who does not support their views is an enemy that must be shouted down,” she commented.
“But I am one of the many people who resides in the grey area between the two extremes. I consider myself to be both pro-life and pro-choice. I sometimes wrestle with the issues and my opinions may alter based on learning new facts or hearing new perspectives. This is not a sign of indecision, rather it is a sign that I want to make a mature and informed decision.
“I am willing to listen to others, but I will make up my own mind. I believe strongly in freedom of speech and I would fight for it. But I also believe that this debate should not be confined to those who shout loudest or those with the most dogmatic positions, whichever side they are on. And I believe that this position represents the vast majority of the population in this country.”
Senator McFadden said her decision to support repealing the Amendment does not mean she is anti-life, and that she refuses to be categorised as such. Due to the fact that the Eighth Amendment was passed 35 years ago, she added that nobody younger than 52 in Ireland today has had the opportunity to have their voice heard on the issue.
In those intervening 35 years, 165,000 Irish women have travelled abroad for a termination, something Senator McFadden says in unacceptable.
“As a modern, secular republic, the time has come for us to be mature enough to take responsibility for the health and wellbeing of Irish women and girls,” she said.
“In the real world, decisions on these issues should be made by a woman in conjunction with her doctor and her partner, not written into the constitution.
“And that is why I have decided to support the removal of the Eighth Amendment. The responsibility then lies on us, in a mature and caring way, to legislate. Today, I am calling on all of the public representatives in both houses to exercise the ultimate in democracy, and to allow the Irish people to decide.”