Belfast Telegraph

Anti-abortion campaigner accuses Health Minister of ‘untruths’ in billboard row

John McGuirk of the Save the 8th campaign made the claim.

An anti-abortion campaigner has accused the Irish Health Minister of “untruths” in a row over billboards.

John McGuirk, of the Save the 8th campaign made the accusation at a press conference in Dublin.

Last week Health Minister Simon Harris said that any claim repealing the Eighth Amendment would legalise abortion up to 26 weeks was a “big lie”.

His comments followed controversy over a Save the 8th campaign billboard showing a baby next to the words “‘I had NO idea …’ They want to legalise abortion up to 6 months”

Mr McGuirk said: “We have not been telling lies, the Minister, unfortunately, has chosen to engage in untruths.

“It is very clear if you look at general scheme for publication that the Minister himself published.

“Minister Harris says in the Bill, he says repeatedly, that late term abortions will be illegal.

“I would ask Minister Harris to point out where in this general scheme for the termination of pregnancy, late term abortions are outlawed. I would ask him to point that out to the public.”

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Minister for Health Simon Harris (Tom Honan/PA)

Mr Harris previously told the Times: “Nowhere in the proposed legislation does it say anything about six months. That is their big lie.

“The truth is the proposed legislation includes an additional restriction, that assessing viability is one of the requirements for certification and that it will not be lawful to terminate if the pregnancy is viable. That means there is a ban on late-term abortions.”

He added: “The proposed legislation would allow Irish women access care on consultation with their doctor up to 12 weeks only. In this case a three-day pause would be in place for women to access all information and counselling and make a considered decision.”

The minister said terminations after 12 weeks would only be in “exceptional, strictly controlled circumstances” which include a risk to the life, or serious harm to the health of the pregnant woman, or the existence of fatal foetal conditions.

Meanwhile, the Trade Union Campaign to Repeal the 8th launched a special edition referendum newspaper at an event in Buswells Hotel, Dublin.

Contributors to the publication include former Supreme Court Justice Judge Catherine McGuinness and Professor Veronica O’Keane of Trinty College Dublin and Tallaght Hospital.

Therese Caherty, of the Trade Union Campaign, said: “It’s full of examples of how the eighth has really damaged women and full of reasons for people to vote yes on the 25th.”

A referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment in the Irish constitution to enable reform of the country’s strict abortion laws is due to be held on May 25.

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