Local Fine Gael TD, Frances Fitzgerald, has welcomed the positive result in last Friday’s Referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment of the Constitution.
Speaking this week, Fitzgerald elaborated on the result saying: “Having advocated for a Yes in this referendum, I am glad that the Irish public agreed to trust women and voted to remove the 8th Amendment from our constitution. There has been 35 years of pent up feelings on this issue, from all sides of the debate.
“Both the Yes vote and the turnout are significantly higher than usual, showing how much this mattered to local residents. 67% of the Dublin Mid-West electorate came out to vote on Friday; that’s 48, 030 people. 73.3% of them voted in favour of Yes. In comparison, Dublin Mid-West voted 70.9% in favour of Marriage Equality in 2015 with a lower turnout of 63%. Our turnout in the 2016 General Election was 62.8%.
“A strong mandate has been given to change the current system. The Oireachtas now needs to move towards enactment. In March, Minister Simon Harris published draft heads of legislation to detail the proposed regime that would come into place should the 8th Amendment be repealed. Government are now working on drafting full legislation and will introduce it before the Oireachtas as soon as possible.
“Legislation is only one aspect of removing the 8th Amendment. Alongside the legislation, clinical guidelines and the regulation of required medicines are also being worked on. While there is clearly a need to bring clarity to the situation for women in pregnancy sooner rather than later, we also must ensure that our health system is prepared so we can do right by both women and their doctors.
“Improving our access to sexual health and education in order to reduce crisis pregnancies is important too. We know that this works; thanks to the availability and knowledge of contraceptives and emergency contraception, abortion rates are falling across the EU and teenage pregnancy is at its lowest rate since the 1960s.”
A lot of work and individual efforts went into achieving Saturday’s historic result at both a local and national level. Fitzgerald paid tribute to these efforts stating:
“I would like to thank all the young people and volunteers who have been so committed to changing the situation, not just for themselves, but for the women they cherish in their lives.
“The volunteer led Dublin Mid-West Together for Yes group brought a huge amount of positivity and visibility to this issue locally. They also managed the impossible by getting cross party support from local TDs and Councillors!
“I would also like to thank the All Party Committee and Citizen’s Assembly for their detailed work in examining the issue and their recommendations. I would also like to thank my colleagues; An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister Josepha Madigan who was the Fine Gael campaign coordinator.
“Ultimately though, polling shows that the most effective campaigner on this issue was individual citizens. The vast majority said that it was personal experiences that motivated them to vote Yes. I think everybody who spoke out on their own personal stories of how the 8th Amendment had affected them, whether in public or quietly to friends and family, helped deliver this result.”
Reflecting on the importance of the referendum, Fitzgerald said:
“This referendum was not about judgement or about our own personal morals or beliefs. This was about providing appropriate health care to women and their families so that we no longer hear stories like Savita’s, or Miss X, Miss Y, Miss P or of families who receive a diagnosis of a Fatal Foetal Anomaly and are not afforded dignity by our health system in the midst of their grief.
“I also think it is important to note that everyone in this debate came from a pro-life perspective; we all want low rates of crisis pregnancy, we all want low rates of abortion and we all want to do best by women and their families.
“I recognise that a lot of people who voted Yes found it difficult. Their Yes peaks to the goodness inherent in Irish people; that regardless of personal views or beliefs that we want to extend empathy and care to those in crisis.
“I look forward to a new dawn, where women and their families can be supported in an inclusive, compassionate society,” concluded Fitzgerald