Retired Supreme Court Justice Catherine McGuinness and consultant obstetrician Peter Boylan were key speakers at this morning’s event, which took place in the Pillar Room of the Rotunda Foundation. Other speakers included Wicklow couple Gerry and Gaye Edwards, who have personal experience of fatal foetal anomaly, and the campaign’s three co-Directors, Orla O’Connor, Ailbhe Smyth and Grainne Griffin.
The launch was also attended by a range of cross-sectoral civil society groups including the Rape Crisis Network Ireland, Women’s Aid, Irish Family Planning Association, the Union of Students in Ireland, the Well Woman Centre and One Family. It also attracted cross-party political support.
Delivering the keynote address, Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, former Justice of the Supreme Court, spoke about the real impact of the constitutional amendment on the lives of women in Ireland and the doctors who care for them. She told the audience:
She said: “I opposed the amendment in 1983 and I am a determined supporter of the Yes campaign this time round.”
Dr. Peter Boylan, former Master of The National Maternity Hospital Holles Street, who also addressed the event, said:
“Abortion is a difficult issue. However, the time has come for us to deal with it ourselves in Ireland. Every other European country has found a solution which works for them. We can no longer rely on others. This is an Irish problem and we need an Irish solution. As a mature nation, it is time for us take responsibility ourselves and repeal the Eighth Amendment.”
Gaye and Gerry Edwards, who travelled to Belfast in 2001 for a termination for medical reasons, added:
“We are one of thousands of Irish couples who had no idea how the 8th amendment would affect our lives. It is 17 years since we had to travel and our son Joshua passed away in another jurisdiction. We have our own two teenage daughters now, and we don’t want them or any Irish women to have to travel to another jurisdiction for the care that they should be receiving in their own country.”
Welcoming people to the Rotunda were the Co-Directors of Together For Yes, Ailbhe Smyth, Orla O’Connor and Grainne Griffin.
Orla O’Connor said: “Together For Yes is the national civil society campaign to remove the 8th amendment from the constitution. We are a movement which has support in every community, town and village in Ireland. We represent those people who believe that Ireland is a compassionate and contemporary country and that our laws should support, respect and protect women in their time of greatest need.”
Ailbhe Smyth said: “We know that people want to put an end to the suffering and distress, to the lonely journeys women have to make across the sea to England, an end to the bleakness of taking abortion pills on their own, in secret, because they can’t get the care they need here in Ireland. Our campaign believes that Irish women deserve care and compassion. We will only achieve this through change – by voting YES to remove the Eighth Amendment.”
Gráinne Griffin of the Abortion Rights Campaign added: “Ireland is ready to talk, and our people are ready to listen. We already have hundreds of volunteers ready to canvass and engage with people all around Ireland, and we look forward to welcoming many more in the coming weeks. We need everyone to talk to your neighbours, family and friends and explain to them why you will be voting YES and what it will mean to you.”
Further information available at: www.togetherforyes.ie