Thursday, 13 December 2018
Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Report and Final Stages
I wish to share time with Senator Gavan. This is a momentous moment, a momentous decision and a momentous choice. I do not want to get emotional. It will take a while for it all to sink in. I, like many others in the House, can finally let out that loud, deep breath that some of us have held for 35 years and perhaps longer. We can let it out and we can get on with life. I look forward to the next steps. Among the most pressing is the need to protect and provide the safe spaces for women seeking treatment and for the professionals providing that care and treatment.
The landslide referendum, the landslide of 66.4% and the 1.5 million people and their votes must be respected and the safe space must be respected. Today's legislation is a sound foundation that allows reproductive choices that are safe, free and legal. It will contribute further to women's social, economic and political advancement. We know that not having to endure unwanted childbearing has made a critical positive difference to women at all stages of life. From 1 January, Irish women will also benefit from this. That includes women from the young woman who wishes to finish her education, to the woman who is not prepared for children, to the overburdened mother who cannot cope with another child and to the older woman who mistakenly believed she could no longer conceive.
As the legislation progressed, some, a few in both these Houses, attempted to paint a picture portraying women, and the advocates of this legislation, as immoral, inhuman, irresponsible and frivolous. They misunderstand respect and they misunderstand trust. We will continue to cultivate respect for women as moral actors who make their childbearing decisions with profound concerns about their health, the health of their unborn babies, their lives and the lives of their families. I thank the Minister for the commitment he gave when he met Deputy O'Reilly, Ms Megan Fearon, MLA, and the campaign groups in the North. There are many aspects that are unfinished business and this is one of them. The North is next.