Belfast Telegraph

Video: Irish abortion referendum: Both sides in last emotive pleas as vote looms

By Michelle Devane

Lives will be lost if Irish people vote in favour of liberalising the country's strict abortion laws, a group calling for a No vote has claimed.

Katie Ascough, of the Love Both campaign, said that the Irish Government's proposed legislation to allow for the termination of pregnancies up to 12 weeks without restriction was "too extreme".

"It goes too far and it would mean lives lost," Ms Ascough said.

"It would mean a missing child, a missing grandchild, a missing niece, cousin and friend and that is not what we want for Ireland."

Irish citizens will go to the polls tomorrow to vote on whether they want to remove the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which gives equal right to the life of the unborn and the woman, and let parliament legalise terminations.

The Irish Government wants to permit abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, subject to medical advice and a 72-hour cooling-off period, and between 12 and 24 weeks in certain limited circumstances.

Clare McCarthy of the campaign said the only way to protect lives and prevent the tragic loss of Irish citizens was to vote No.

Mary Kenny, who is supporting the Love Both campaign, said she had intended to travel for a termination when she found she was pregnant at the age of 19, but her passport had expired.

"The Eighth Amendment saved her life," she said. "My baby Holly, because we do not have abortion on demand in Ireland."

Trinity College student Gavin Boyne said he was alive because his mother, who was 16 when she got pregnant, decided against having an abortion.

"The fact that my mother could not obtain an abortion here and therefore was going to travel to England meant there was time," Mr Boyne said. "This time would not have existed if abortion on demand was available in Ireland."

More than 3.2 million people are registered to vote in the referendum.

Meanwhile, a mother whose daughter took abortion pills at home has spoken out ahead of the vote. Elaine Bedford said her daughter Kate had ordered the pills when she fell pregnant just months after being seriously ill in hospital.

She said Kate, who was 25 when she took the pills two years ago, had type one diabetes and polycystic ovaries and had been told by doctors never to have an unplanned pregnancy, but had fallen pregnant despite taking the contraceptive pill.

At a Together for Yes Press conference in Dublin, Ms Bedford said she had been in work on the day when her daughter had taken the pills but had gone home after her daughter messaged her.

"I got home, she was in agony," she said.

Ms Bedford said she had wanted to call a doctor but her daughter had told her not to.

She said: "This went on for hours, it felt like days. I couldn't do anything. I was watching her blood sugars.

"It was just heartbreaking. It's not something I want any mother in this country to ever have to witness.

"I can't stand back, at this stage, and let any woman look at that fear in her daughter's eyes."

Ms Bedford said her daughter got married last week and was now planning to have a baby.

She said: "She really wants a child but she wants it to be born healthy. She has every right to want that for her child." The Taoiseach has called for a high turnout. Leo Varadkar urged employers to allow workers time off to vote.

Mr Varadkar said: "I do hope in this referendum we will see more people taking part in this, an exercise in democracy."

He said some voters were still undecided. "Ultimately laws are just written in black and white, they are text in a piece of law but what has to be behind those laws is individuals, people's families and how those laws have affected them in the process."

Belfast Telegraph

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