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Richie Sadlier: Referendum Is About Handing Back A Basic Human Right To Women

Richie Sadlier: Referendum Is About Handing Back A Basic Human Right To Women
By Richie Sadlier Updated

This article was originally published in The Irish Sun on the 7th April. Former Irish international and current football pundit Richie Sadlier has come out in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment ahead of tomorrow's referendum. 

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There's something I always do when I go to see my GP.

Nobody ever told me I should do it, or even suggested I should do it, but a visit to the doctor wouldn’t be possible if someone stopped it from happening.

I never thought about how important it was until recently, but now I realise it’s fundamental to the success of every appointment.

When I go to the doctor, I close the door behind me before saying a word about why I’m there.

Nobody in the waiting room gets to listen in, nevermind join in. Nobody passing by the surgery gets to wander in and give their tuppence on whatever choices I must make. Nobody from the local school, church or pub get to be a part of the conversation.

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When I go to the doctor, I close the door behind me because it’s private, it’s nobody’s business but mine.

I’ve never had to make that case to anyone about my own medical well-being, but people who expect others to respect their own privacy should do likewise themselves.

That’s the main reason why I’ll be voting yes to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

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The upcoming referendum is about a lot of things to a lot of people. For me, it’s about handing back a basic human right to pregnant women in the Republic of Ireland.

It’s about giving them access to safe, legal abortion services if they need them. And it’s about staying out of their business after that.

I don’t have a list of scenarios that are acceptable to me for others to end a pregnancy, nor do I have any views on the circumstances of how a woman gets pregnant.

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I don’t tie myself in knots trying to decide when life begins, and I don’t bring religion or faith into my thinking on this issue at all.

I certainly don’t think a woman should be forced to remain pregnant against her will, nor do I think she should have to leave the country for the medical treatment.

And quite apart from any of that, the reality which many people are reluctant to face is that Ireland has an abortion rate comparable with other countries in which it is legal.

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The Eighth Amendment hasn’t prevented women accessing abortion services, it just puts their health at greater risk because it forces them to travel.

I’m sure some people will wonder why I’m getting involved in a campaign like this.

Maybe they’re thinking a former footballer should stay away from issues as contentious or as sensitive as this — stick to giving views about matches and the performance of referees and leave the more serious business to others.

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Maybe some are thinking it’s not a man’s place to even have a view on this issue.

That’s how I feel about it too, which is why I’m voting yes to give women the choice.

It’s not a religious issue either. People will cast their vote for deeply personal reasons and I’m sure everyone honestly believes they have right on their side.

But many people are still undecided on how they’re going to vote, or whether they even should have a voice in this discussion at all.

If you’re one of those and you don’t have a firm opinion yet yourself, just hand the decision-making back to the person that’s pregnant.

They’re the only ones who will have the information relevant to their situation, so it makes sense they should have the power to decide for themselves.

Let’s close the door behind them so they can consider their options in private.

It’s the supportive, compassionate, considerate, and right thing to do.

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