With a majority of Galway TDs opposed to, or undeclared on, repealing the Eighth Amendment, Galway Pro-Choice is calling on the 11 TDs, spread across the county's three constituencies, to "investigate the full impact" of the Eighth on women's lives.
Galway Pro-Choice is also calling on the public to contact TDs in Galway West, Galway East, and Roscommon-Galway, and to argue the case for the repeal of the controversial amendment which grants an unborn child an equal right to life as that if its mother. The group's call comes as the Dáil meets this week to discuss the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth.
The JOC recommended removing, and not replacing, Article 40.33 of the Constitution; making abortion accessible without restriction up to 12 weeks; full decriminalisation of abortion under any circumstances; no term limits if there is a risk to the health of the pregnant person; and that abortion be accessible in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.
However, according to a recent Irish Times survey of Galway TDs, only three Galway TDs - Seán Kyne and Hildegarde Naughton (FG ) and Catherine Connolly (Ind ), all Galway West - openly support repealing the Eighth, while four are opposed: Galway West Éamon Ó Cuív (FF ), Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte (FF ), and Roscommon-Galway TDs Eugene Murphy (FF ) and Michael Fitzmaurice (Ind ). Galway West TD Noal Grealish (Ind ), Galway East TDs Ciarán Cannon (FG ) and Seán Canney (Ind ), and Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughton have not yet publicly declared their stance.
As a result, Galway Pro-Choice is calling on the Galway public to "get in touch with their TDs" and argue the case for the repeal of the Eighth. “Galway TDs must listen to what the majority of their constituents want and support repeal and comprehensive access to abortion," said GPC's Jacinta Fay. "Many TDs are still undeclared and need to hear from their constituents."
Ms Fay also called on TDs to "investigate the full impact" of the Eighth Amendment on women's lives. “The Eighth not only impacts abortion access but denies women’s choice in their maternity care," she said. "It removes women’s right to refuse consent for procedures, meaning pregnant women have fewer rights than everyone else. This makes Ireland an unsafe place to be pregnant."
Galway Pro-Choice said it was "disappointed" that the JOC's recommendations were "more restrictive" than those put forward by the Citizen's Assembly. The group said it was "vital" the Dáil legislates not only for abortion access up to 12 weeks, as outlined in the JOC report, but also for access after 12 weeks on broader grounds.
"While unrestricted access up to 12 weeks will provide access to some of those who need it, it will not provide access to everyone who needs it," said Suzi Coombs of Galway Pro-Choice. "We all want a health care system that cares for everyone who lives on the island of Ireland. To ensure this we should adhere to international medical best practice and human rights standards.”