Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Referendum on eighth amendment set to go ahead following court ruling

Image graph Sasko Lazarov Image graph Sasko Lazarov
| 11 March, 2018, 03:02

The Government will reveal a policy paper later outlining what it wants the laws on abortion to be if the 8th amendment is repealed.

It's very appropriate and fitting that on this day the Irish Government has taken a decision that we will have a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment and that we will have finalised the wording for that referendum.

It will also propose that medical practitioners who are opposed to abortion should be allowed to cite a conscientious objection as provided for in existing legislation.

The Irish government formally approved the referendum bill at a cabinet meeting in Dublin on Thursday.

Currently, terminations are only allowed in the Irish Republic when the life of the mother is at risk, including from suicide, and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.

Mr Harris told the Dail he was mindful of the impact of the Eighth Amendment since it was inserted 35 years ago.

"This work has so far established that provision of free access to contraception methods, which are now limited to those with eligibility through the Primary Care Reimbursement Services, would require enabling primary legislation", said Harris.


Ireland's health minister, Simon Harris, said on Friday that a yes vote in May would represent a "quantum leap from our position today, where have one of the most restrictive regimes, similar to Saudi Arabia".

It is generally in line with the recommendations of the all-party Oireachtas committee which proposed allowing terminations without restriction up to 12 weeks, although the document will use different wording.

On Wednesday, Ireland's Supreme Court cleared the way for an abortion referendum planned for the end of May, ruling that the unborn do not have inherent constitutional rights outside the right to life in the eighth amendment of the constitution.

Mr Harris said this brief period of time would allow women to consider of all of the options before making an informed decision.

Providing access to medical abortion on request in early pregnancy, and in later pregnancy in additional circumstances, is the minimum needed to respect and fulfil women's human rights.

The debate on the controversial issue is due to resume after the St Patrick's Day week-long break on March 20.

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