herald

Monday 24 July 2017

Calls for abortion vote as soon as possible after Assembly's proposals

22/04/2017. Citizens Assembly. Pictured Chairperson Ms. Justice Mary Laffoy, in the Grand Hotel in Malahide where the Citizens Assembly have voted in Ballot 1 on the consideration of the first item referred to it by the Dail Resolution, the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. The Citizens Assembly recommendation on Ireland’s future abortion laws will be determined by up to four votes over the next two days. The process concludes deliberations on the issue of the Eighth Amendment before chair Justice Mary Laffoy prepares a report for the Oireachtas. The assembly meets this morning and the first vote at 11.05am may conclude the weekends programme. If not, up to three more votes will take place. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
22/04/2017. Citizens Assembly. Pictured Chairperson Ms. Justice Mary Laffoy, in the Grand Hotel in Malahide where the Citizens Assembly have voted in Ballot 1 on the consideration of the first item referred to it by the Dail Resolution, the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. The Citizens Assembly recommendation on Ireland’s future abortion laws will be determined by up to four votes over the next two days. The process concludes deliberations on the issue of the Eighth Amendment before chair Justice Mary Laffoy prepares a report for the Oireachtas. The assembly meets this morning and the first vote at 11.05am may conclude the weekends programme. If not, up to three more votes will take place. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Campaigners are pushing for a referendum on abortion to be held as soon as possible after the Citizens' Assembly voted overwhelmingly for change.

With two-thirds of the Assembly voting for terminations without restrictions, the door was opened to full abortion for the first time in our history.

However, 48pc of members felt this should be an option only up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.

One of the most startling votes showed that 72pc felt socio-economic factors should be allowed as a reason for abortion. In this case, 50pc said a termination could take place up to 22 weeks into pregnancy.

A stotal of 89pc voted for abortions to be permitted if a foetal abnormality was likely to result in death before or after birth. In this case, 69pc said there should be no restriction on the age of the foetus.

72pc said there should be no distinction between mental and physical health when it comes to abortion rights.

Repeal

In the first ballot on Saturday, 87pc of members voted that the Eighth Amendment of the constitution should not be retained in full.

In the second, 56pc said it should be amended or replaced, as opposed to a repeal.

In the third, 57pc recommended that it be replaced with a constitutional provision authorising the Oireachtas to address termination. In other words, it would be a matter for the Oireachtas to decide how to legislate on these issues.

Deirdre Duffy, from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, welcomed the result.

"The Assembly did us proud today," she said.

Orla O'Connor, from the Women's Council, said the Assembly had signalled a "very clear mandate for Government to hold a referendum".

Campaigners believe a referendum could come by spring next year.

Ailbhe Smyth, convenor of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, thanked Assembly chair Ms Justice Laffoy and the members for their "dedication and commitment".

"It's very clear from the outcome that there is a huge appetite for progressive change."

Dr Ross Kelly, from Doctors For Choice, said the group was hopeful a referendum would be organised "without delay" to help improve the lives of women "failed" by the Eighth Amendment.

Ms Justice Laffoy said she hoped to finalise the report on the Assembly recommendations to the Oireachtas by June.

This Assembly's recommendations pave the way for a referendum and will see campaigners push for a definitive change in the law to give Irish women the right to abortion.

However, a number of other groups were crictial of the outcome.

Cora Sherlock, of the Pro-Life Campaign, said: "There is nothing liberal or progressive about the Assembly recommending a referendum to strip unborn babies of their right to life in law and also ignoring the negative consequences of abortion for women.

Credible

"The writing was on the wall for weeks after the Assembly invited groups like BPAS [the British Pregnancy Advisory Service], Britain's largest abortion provider, to address them but never... extended a single invitation to groups representing parents who say they owe the life of their child to the Eighth Amendment.

"This one-sided approach is typical of how the Assembly conducted its business from the get-go. It cannot be left unchallenged.

"If the next phase of the process is to have any credibility, the first thing the new Oireachtas Committee charged with looking at theissue must do is examine how the Citizens' Assembly was allowed to operate in such a one-sided and chaotic way.

"One only has to look at today's proceedings to see the muddled and confused farce the Assembly has become."

During his homily at Knock, Archbishop Eamon Martin spoke of Christians being slaughtered in Egypt and massacres in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He then referred to the "continued attempt to convince us that there's nothing wrong with undermining the right to life of the unborn child".

"Demands to quash and abolish this amendment go against the Good News that the life of every person is sacred and inviolable, irrespective of the stage or state of that life - from the first moment of conception until the moment of natural death."

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