John Bruton said the country should be proud that it protects the unborn in its constitution

Former Irish Prime Minister John Bruton has called for voters to reject the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, and said the country should be “proud” that it protects the unborn in its constitution.

Bruton said that babies are already developing their strength before birth, and can “feel”.

“To arbitrarily say that, after whatever number of weeks, it’s okay to suppress that life is just not in accordance with the values of charity towards the weak in our communities that have exemplified the Irish over the last many centuries.

“It’s true that we are probably one of the few countries in the world that has, in our constitution, an express recognition of the right to life of the unborn child, but that’s something we should be proud of.”

Bruton served as Prime Minister – or Taoiseach – from 1994 to 1997, and later served as European Union Ambassador to the United States. He also led the Fine Gael party, which is currently trying to push through radical liberalisation of the abortion laws, from 1990 to 1997.

The Irish Times reports that the former Prime Minister confirmed he “won’t be voting in favour of repeal”, but did not offer a prediction of how the referendum would go.

“Clearly there are divided opinions about this. I think if you accept that a child, before birth, is human then you have to ask yourself as a human, does it have human rights? If it is to have human rights, then surely the first right it must have is the right to life,” he said.