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Thirty-eight Mayo women travelled to UK for abortion in 2016

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DIFFERING VIEWS  Mayo Fianna Fáil deputies, Lisa Chambers and Dara Calleary, have accepted that there are differing views in their party with regard to the 8th amendment, but called for there to be respect for those views.

Anton McNulty

The Minister for Health has revealed that 38 women travelled to the UK from Mayo to have an abortion in 2016.
UK records state 3,265 women gave an address in the Republic when attending clinics in England and Wales that year. Of that figure, 38 were from Co Mayo.
Minister for Health, Simon Harris confirmed the figures on the number when opening the debate on the report of the Oireachtas on the Eighth Amendment in the Dáil last Wednesday.
The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment recommended a series of changes to Ireland’s abortion legislation, including allowing terminations up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.
Minister Harris told the Dáil that abortion is a reality for women living in Ireland, and one that is not going to go away.
The Dáil also heard that according to records, over 1,200 of the women who went to the UK were aged between 30 and 39; over 1,500 were aged between 20 and 29; and 255 were aged 40 or over. Teenagers accounted for 230, while ten were girls under the age of 16. Over half of the women who travelled were married, in a civil partnership or in a relationship.

Party split
In a unexpected announcement, Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin told the Dáil that he supports repealing the Eighth Amendment and the introduction of abortion on request in the first three months of pregnancy, and in specific circumstances thereafter.
Mayo Fianna Fáil TD, Lisa Chambers, who was sitting beside her party leader when he delivered the speech, supported his views. In a tweet she wrote; “Incredibly proud of my party leader @MichaelMartinTD today, a watershed moment in this debate.”
However, Mr Martin’s decision to support the repeal of the Eight Amendment has split the party, with some of his front bench taking a different position. Among them is Ballina-based TD and Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform, Dara Calleary who said the recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee went too far.
“It is far too far for me. I know this is a difficult decision for everybody, and I’m not claiming to have the monopoly on the wisdom of this issue. Everyone will have to make their own personal decision on this, and people should consider all of the arguments.
“There are a lot of arguments not being heard in this debate, and I would hope that in the next few weeks and months those arguments will be heard in relation to some of the evidence presented to the joint committee and citizens’ assembly. In circumstances that are being presented to us, I will be voting to retain the eight amendment,” he told Midwest Radio.
Both deputies Calleary and Chambers accepted that there were differing views in their party, but called for there to be respect for those views.
“We need to have respect that these views are deeply held and held out of various different value systems, and we should respect the right to have a different view. If we respect that we can have a debate which is informed and not divisive,” Deputy Calleary said.

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