Seanad debates

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Second Stage


10:30 am

Photo of Gerald NashGerald Nash (Labour) | Oireachtas source

I will not use eight minutes but I will place on record my gratitude to the people and women of Ireland for ultimately making the right decision last May. That day last summer was a momentous and historic day. It marked a milestone on the road to the Republic becoming a much more pluralistic, tolerant and open society. As my colleague, Senator Bacik, stated earlier, we must reflect on the at least 160,000 Irish women who we banished from these shores in the past few decades. They were women who could not access a service they should have been entitled to receive in this country. They were denied a public health service which it should have been their right to have.

The legislation allows us to consign a very dark chapter in our history to the historical dustbin. In saying that, I pay tribute to my friend, comrade and colleague, Senator Bacik. I listened intently to her emotional contribution. She will not mind me saying that. I understand why it was emotional because, more than most, Senator Bacik has the metaphorical scars on her back from fighting the right campaign for many decades. I was struck by the words of Senator Kelleher. I remember when we were debating the draft legislation to allow the referendum to take place in a late night sitting last spring during which many people had the opportunity to speak. Senator Kelleher reminded the House of the long relationship she had with Senator Bacik in supporting and giving succour and comfort to young Irish women in crisis who had to travel to the UK back in the dark days when Senator Bacik was leading the students' union in Trinity College and selflessly put those women first at great risk to herself and her liberty. We should be reminded of that. Are there many people in the Houses who would take those risks for something they believe in? I sincerely doubt it.I think it is telling that those on the anti-choice extreme of this most personal of debates in this House rarely concern themselves with the concerns that most of the rest of us express around child poverty, deprivation, marginalisation-----


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