SIPTU believes the eighth amendment is a barrier to women accessing all of their maternal and reproductive healthcare needs in this country.

We recognise the reality that over 5,000 women in Ireland have terminations each year: (a) legally, by way of travel to the UK and, to a lesser extent, other jurisdictions, and (b) illegally, by way of procurement of abortion pills online.

Unknown to many of us, our family members, work colleagues, friends and neighbours are terminating pregnancies.

We believe that the 8th Amendment prevents appropriate medical care for women when their lives or health in pregnancy are at risk and it has given rise to unsafe, unregulated practices, further putting the lives of women in pregnancy at risk.

We know that for many union members, this may not be the most important issue for them and their families right now. We are also conscious that for some members, it may never be a consideration regardless of the circumstances.

However, we respectfully ask members to show solidarity with the thousands of women who cannot access health care services here in Ireland and travel abroad or depend on the internet. We ask that members not stand in the way of affording women access to timely, affordable and accessible care in a safe setting in the health service of their own country.

As the largest union of healthcare workers in Ireland, SIPTU wants to ensure that our members who work in front line healthcare services are protected and supported. This is why we are in favour of the provision of conscientious objection for medical and healthcare workers.