Oireachtas members are debating a report on the 8th amendment

The Health Minister Simon Harris says Oireachtas members are coming face to face with history, as they debate abortion this evening.

The Dáil and Seanad are discussing the recommendations of the Oireacthas Committee report on the 8th amendment.

Mr Harris gave an opening speech - listing the amount of women in each county who traveled for an abortion last year.

"Real women like the 36 from County Carlow who travelled to the UK for an abortion in 2016, or the 38 from Mayo, the 69 women from Tipperary, the 85 from Wicklow, the 241 from Cork or the 1,175 women from Dublin.

"Women from every county in the Republic of Ireland travelled to the UK in 2016. I think we need to acknowledge them all.

"Forty-nine from Kerry and 130 from Kildare. 21 from Leitrim and 20 from Roscommon. 69 from Wexford.

"Thirty-three from Cavan and 15 from Monaghan. 99 from Limerick. 53 from Clare. 38 from Westmeath. 63 from Donegal. 113 from Galway. 44 from Kilkenny. 42 from Laois. 83 from Louth and 100 from Meath. 28 from Offaly and 29 from Sligo. 16 from Longford. 56 from Waterford.

"n 2016, 3,265 Irish women travelled to the UK alone and we know that Irish women travel to other countries like the Netherlands too.

"Over 1,200 of the women who went to the UK were aged between 30 and 39 and over 1,500 were aged between 20 and 29. 255 were aged 40 or over.

"Face to face with our history"

"Ten were girls under the age of 16. 230 were teenagers. Over half of the women who travelled were married, in a civil partnership, or in a relationship.

"85% of the women were between three and 12 weeks pregnant. It is estimated that at least 170,000 Irish women have travelled to other countries for abortions since 1980.
"These are not faceless women. They are our friends and neighbours, sisters, cousins, mothers, aunts, wives.

"Each woman is dealing with her own personal situation and making what is a deeply difficult decision.

Minister Simon Harris says there needs to be a change to the Constitution.

"We also come face to face with our history.

"A history that continues to unfold, and continues to hold up a mirror in which we sometimes do not like what we see.

"Whether it's the damp cold of the Magdalene Laundries creeping into our bones, or the sundered silence of Mother and Baby Homes being broken - or the glimpses of what was an all-too-acceptable culture exposed by the Kerry Babies case."