Catherine Connolly TD has said that the Eighth Amendment has caused ‘appalling suffering to women and loss of life’ in her speech on the Eighth Amendment yesterday.
Statements on the Thirty-Sixth Amendment to the Constitution Bill recommenced yesterday following the St. Patrick’s break.
“I want to correct a number of things,” said Deputy Connolly, “that we are rushing through legislation.”
“1983 was the Amendment. 1992 was the X-Case. And it is important to point out that it was a 14-year-old girl that had been subjected to repeated sexual abuse for 18 months culminating in a rape. And that poor girl who is now and adult and that family are living with that legacy and this Dáil talking about the X Case continuously.
“And during the course of that judgement as I said, the Supreme Court excoriated the government of the time for not bringing the legislation.”
Connolly criticised the government of the time for not taking action and for allowing the many cases that followed the X Case to take place.
“Look at the figures that are leaving on a daily basis. Let’s be precise and use the figures from the digest. 5,650 women between 2010 and 2015 who have used abortion pills.
“3,265 women which each county every single year, in this country leaving to go.
“Will we ignore all of those? Or will we look at the profile of those? And the profile is not what we imagine. The profile is largely between 20 and 40.
“Sixty-nine percent of abortions took place below nine weeks gestation. Forty-nine percent of the women were married or in a civil partnership. This is the profile of the 3,265 people who were leaving our shores every single year. That’s the profile and we want to ignore that and pretend that it doesn’t exist.
“Well I certainly, as a woman, can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist.
“And I reluctantly talk about my personal circumstances – I am somebody who comes from a large family. A family of fourteen, in fact. Equally balanced at the time, seven and seven. [I am] someone who suffered the loss of a mother at a young age. I bring that in, not on an emotional level, but to say that we are not pro-life is absolutely insulting.
“But it’s worse than insulting. It’s dangerous. Because it’s seeking to polarise a debate that should not be polarised. It’s preventing a debate based on evidence and facts, and it’s allowing a myth to continue that the Eighth Amendment saves lives when it has actively caused the deaths of women and to seriously suffer. It has also seriously disabled and dis-empowered them.
“Finally, to criminalise abortion and to have a fourteen year penalty in the twenty-first century – words fail me. The purpose is to terrorise, to isolate, to demonise,” said Deputy Connolly.
Deputy Connolly concluded by saying while she would disagree with Minister Simon Harris on many other matters -such as health, especially in Galway City – she wanted to thank the Minister for his approach to date on this issue.