8th Amendment Has Been Shown To Cause Real Damage To Irish Women - Martin

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has announced his support for repealing the Eight Amendment.

Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Martin said that evidence given at the Oireachtas Committee and the Citizen's Assembly has made if "clear that the Eighth Amendment has been shown to cause real damage to Irish women".

Mr Martin also said that in cases of rape, incest and life limiting conditions, the current system was "cruelly inflexible" for women.

In an official statement, published on the Fianna Fáil website, Mr Martin said: "Over the years I have been on the record as being against a significant change in our abortion laws. I have done so from a belief that this was the most effective way of affirming the importance of the unborn. While I have supported different proposals to clarify the law and to address the threat to the life of the mother I have been broadly in favour of the law as enabled by the 8th Amendment.

"However I believe we each have a duty to be willing to question our own views, to be open to different perspectives and to respond to new information.

"On an issue as profoundly important as this we must all struggle with complex and discomforting medical and ethical issues. If our views change, if the facts become clearer, if we come to understand properly the impact of a policy on others then we must be willing to act accordingly."

Mr Martin said that no one can dispute the fact that thousands of Irishwomen have an abortion every year, which for the significant majority involves a journey to Britain, "often alone and always separated from the support of their medical professionals.

"For many a crisis can become a deep and hidden trauma."

He continued: "(An) increasing number of cases abortions are happening here. The availability of pills which can cause an abortion in the first 70 days of a pregnancy is widespread and growing. This is not going to change.

"So it is untrue to say that the issue before us is whether there will be abortion in Ireland or not.

"The 8th Amendment does not mean that Ireland is a country without abortion.

"Retaining the 8th Amendment will not make Ireland a country without abortion.

"Nothing we say or do here could make Ireland a country without abortion.

"If we are sincere in our compassion for women and if we are sincere in respecting their choices then we must act.

"Because the 8th Amendment has been shown to cause real damage to Irishwomen."

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