With the 8th Amendment now just days away, we are allowing both sides of the debate to put their points across to the people of Tipperary, and to allow open discussion on what is a contentious issue.
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Starting the debate for the *Vote No – Protect the 8th* side is Tipperary TD, Mattie McGrath. Deputy McGrath was asked to outline why he is campaigning for a No Vote in the upcoming referendum
The protections afforded to the unborn child and mother which are guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment need to remain in place.
The idea of our Constitution, as a document which expresses the guiding and deepest principles of our nation and laws, being devoid of any reference to the right to life of the unborn child, is to my mind, utterly repugnant to democratic principles and the highest aspirations of humanity.
The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution is the surest guarantee we have that the most appropriate balance of rights between mother and child can be maintained.
It is a provision which guards against the spectre of unlimited access to abortion across all three trimesters and for any reason.
I have profound concerns that the rights of the unborn child are absolutely invisible and immaterial in much of the national discourse that has characterised this debate to date.
The experience of many jurisdictions across the western world and beyond who initially introduce legislation on so called limited grounds ought to give us all pause.
Once the principle that human life, in its innocence and vulnerability, can be terminated, then it is only a matter of time until the scope of the categories permitting further attacks are introduced at the legislative level.
I would plead for the voices of mothers and fathers and extended families who have been touched by the harm that abortion causes to be heard. For too long they have shamefully shut out of the debate within this state.
Groups life Every Life Counts and One Day More have invaluable human wisdom to share with us as we attempt to frame our laws on this matter.
Unborn children diagnosed with life limiting conditions do not deserve to be singled out as a category for whom the protections we give to all other humans beings do not seem to apply.
We must find ways of supporting options like perinatal hospice care and slowing the inexorable march toward the elimination of whole categories of children like those diagnosed with Downs Syndrome.
The Eighth Amendment is shining light that must remain if we are not to slip into the cultural darkness of an abortion on demand mind set.
We must protect human life and not subject it to the ideological whims of an extreme political agenda that has offered no meaningful response to the question; what would you put in place of the Eighth Amendment?
We must use our energies to create a culture of life, a culture of hope.
Anything less would be to rob existing and future generations of a precious legacy grounded in the intrinsic dignity of the human person at all stages of its existence.