– Release date: 19 April 2001
Labour's Liz McManus has demanded that the Taoiseach drop his plans to hold another abortion referendum. Deputy McManus made her call after a Landsdowne Market Research poll found that less than 20% of the population want an amendment to the constitution to prohibit abortion. The poll was commissioned by the Abortion Reform group.
"I welcome the findings of this opinion poll. It clearly demonstrates that Irish people understand the complexity of the issues surrounding abortion and the vast majority of them reject the simplistic and dangerous route of another abortion referendum. Attempting to deal with abortion through a constitutional amendment has failed twice over the past 17 years. The hearings before the All-Party Committee on the Constitution last year clearly demonstrated the folly of continuing to pursue this path. It is time the Taoiseach faced up to this reality and dropped his plans for a referendum. Such a referendum will not reduce the numbers of Irish women with crisis pregnancies who opt for a termination in Britain."
"It is now over six months since the All-Party Committee reported. Our report stressed the critical importance of putting in place a well resourced, integrated strategy to reduce crisis pregnancies. The Committee agreed that something in the region of £60m was needed for this task. Yet, the Government has taken no action on this key point. Due to the Taoiseach's political preference for a referendum the entire All-Party Report has been shelved while a Cabinet sub-committee debates it findings. There has been more than enough debate about crisis pregnancy and abortion in the past 18 months. We have produced a blueprint for action which will make a real impact and it is a disgrace that the Taoiseach is blocking its implementation."
"Foisting another abortion referendum on the Irish people would be pointless. If passed it wouldn't reduce the numbers of Irish women seeking abortions abroad and would only serve to place at risk the lives of some Irish women. There is common agreement that the rate of Irish abortions is too high. We can make a real effort in reducing the numbers of crisis pregnancies by concentrating our resources and energies on a strategy to support women with a crisis pregnancy. A fruitless referendum would simply dissipate that effort," concluded Deputy McManus.