Photograph: Dara MacDonaill/The Irish Times

Abortion: Pro-choice rally urges February 2018 referendum

Source: Irish Times, 2nd May 2017 – Aine McMahon

Protest called by Coalition to Repeal the Eighth follows Citizens’ Assembly proposal

A rally was held by pro-choice campaigners outside Leinster House on Tuesday evening calling for an abortion referendum to be held next February.

It was organised by The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, an alliance of more than 70 organisations campaigning to repeal the Eight Amendment.

Last month members of the Citizens’ Assembly voted for a constitutional amendment that would mandate the Oireachtas to deal with the issue of abortion.

Former Irish Times journalist Nell McCafferty joined others attending The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment rally outside Leinster House. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill/The Irish Times
Former Irish Times journalist Nell McCafferty at The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment rally outside Leinster House. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill/The Irish Times

The citizens voted 51-38 to an amended ballot paper which suggested that Article 40.3.3, the Eighth Amendment, “should be replaced with a constitutional provision that explicitly authorises the Oireachtas to legislate to address termination of pregnancy, any rights of the unborn, and any rights of the pregnant woman”.

Ailbhe Smyth, a spokeswoman for the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, accused the Government using the Citizens’ Assembly as a “delay tactic”.

“I would say to the Government, ‘you set up a Citizens’ Assembly to bluster, fluster, do a bit of hiding, do a bit of delaying so you wouldn’t have to make a decision’. That assembly deliberated, very deliberately, and gave the Government far more than it bargained for,” said Ms Smyth.

  “We could see the tectonic plates shifting during the months that the assembly were meeting and you could see the penny dropping,” she said.

“This is not some divisive, irritating, annoying , sometimes boring fight that people up in Dublin have outside and inside Dáil Éireann. This is an issue that matters to women and for women and the country as a whole,” said Ms Smyth.

“They voted overwhelmingly for one condition in relation to women’s ’s health – no more saying, ‘well let’s base it on physician or mental health as if half of you is mental and half of you is physical’. They said stop all this baloney. There’s women’s health, that’s what matters and we want it in legislation,” said Ms Smyth.