– Release date: 13 May 2002
The Irish Family Planning Association has called on the Taoiseach to make a clear statement about how he intends to deal with the rejection of the recent abortion referendum, should he be re-elected to office.
According to IFPA Chief Executive, Tony O'Brien, "since the beginning of the election campaign, the Taoiseach has danced around questions on abortion. He indicated that the issue would need to be looked at, but there has been no clarity on how he proposes to do this: Does he plan another Green Paper? does he plan another Oireachtas Committee report? Does he plan another special Cabinet Committee and does he plan another referendum?
"In the run up to the March Referendum, the Toaiseach dishonestly warned that a no vote would leave him with no option but to introduce a liberal abortion regime. However, now that his referendum has been rejected, he is failing to take any mandate from the result.
At the beginning of the general election campaign, the IFPA sent a questionnaire to each political party about their policies in relation to abortion and sexual health. The Labour Party was the only one to respond in full. Fine Gael acknowledged the receipt of the questionnaire and promised an early response.
"It is unacceptable that, after five years when the issue of abortion absorbed so much civil service time and political debate, the political parties have hardly mentioned it during this general election campaign. Above all, the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste have a duty to indicate the stance of their respective party on the issue, given that it was their decision to drag the country through a fruitless and divisive referendum campaign in March.
"It would be wrong of political parties to pre-suppose that those voters who rejected the referendum will not make their candidate choice on the basis of their position on abortion. There are many voters, particularly, young women, who are still deeply angry about the abortion referendum.
"During the closing days of the campaign, those parties who have remained tight-lipped about abortion and crisis pregnancy prevention should come clean," added Mr O'Brien.