The motion, backed by the party's leadership and central council, was endorsed by a comfortable majority of delegates. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald voted for motion 122 from the stage of the auditorium.
The adoption of the motion meant that another motion, seeking the blanket right to abortion wherever a woman seeks one, automatically fell. A similar motion asking Sinn Féin to maintain the status quo - where abortion is allowed only when the mother's life is at risk - also lapsed.
However delegates adopted a separate motion calling for the repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland, which equates the lives of the mother and unborn child and which restricts the circumstances under which abortion is permissible.
Mary Lou McDonald said that allowing women and couples, whose unborn children suffered from fatal fetal abnormality, was the "republican" thing to do. “For me, the decent thing, the right thing, the republican thing to do is to support the motion 122 and afford those women, their partners and their families the dignity and small measure of comfort that choice represents for them,” she said.
She added those women and couples should be shown compassion and care, "but above all, choice".
The discussion on abortion was among the most widely-debated issue at the two-day conference in Derry's Millennium Forum.
One delegate from Cork said unborn children suffering from fatal fetal abnormalities deserved to be allowed to live for as long as their conditions allowed.
Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín, who was disciplined for failing to vote with his party in favor of proposed X case legislation in 2012, indicated earlier in the day that he would not be voting in favor of the motion.
After the motion was carried, the party's health spokesman Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said; “I welcome the passing of this motion. It provides certainty and clarity in terms of Sinn Féin's position.
“The motion recognizes the gravity and complexity of fatal fetal abnormality which requires great compassion.
“It also highlights the difficulties women face who are forced to travel abroad to access services because the law prevents women with fatal fetal pregnancies to access legal abortion in Ireland, both North and South."
The passage of this resolution by the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis removes any confusion or doubt that people may have had about the party’s official position on the issue of abortion. They are a pro-abortion party and anybody who acts on behalf of the party is required to abide by the their official position. They will argue that it only applies in certain cases, but they have,in fact, taken the first step down the slippery slope to “abortion on demand”. This is a sad day, indeed, for Catholic Irish republicans.
Jack Meehan, National President Emeritus
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America
Knights of Columbus – 4th Degree