Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment response to Joint Oireachtas Committee recommendations

The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment has tonight (13.12.17) welcomed the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment to remove the Amendment in full from the Constitution and introduce legislation to allow access to abortion services.

Commenting following the Committee’s vote this evening, Ailbhe Smyth, Convenor of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, said: “This is indeed a truly historic day. We warmly welcome the Committee’s recognition that women’s healthcare does not belong in the Constitution and their clear recommendation for repeal of the Eighth Amendment. We would like to thank the Committee for their hard work and dedication, and for their willingness to be open-minded, courageous and compassionate in considering this complex issue.

“We are particularly pleased that the Committee has recommended that legislation should include provision of abortion without restriction as to reason up to 12 weeks as this will provide for the majority of women who seek abortions in Ireland.

“We believe that the Committee’s recommendations reflect the wishes of a majority of the Irish people, seen in research, opinion polls and the growth of a nation-wide social movement for repeal.”

“The decisions of the Committee are essentially an acknowledgment that it is time Ireland stops pretending that abortions do not happen.  As a country, we must now take important steps to deal with the lived reality of women’s reproductive healthcare needs, including the need for abortion.

“While it is good to see that the Committee have recommended a broad provision to protect women’s health and a compassionate approach to women who face a diagnosis of fatal foetal anomaly, we feel that the failure to endorse a socio-economic provision is a missed opportunity to provide extra protection for some of the most vulnerable women in our society.”

Ancillary Issues

Ms. Smyth also welcomed the Committee’s recommendations that abortion is decriminalised to a large extent, the reviewing of sexual health education and the introduction of a scheme to provide free contraception. These are all vital steps to creating a progressive, reproductive healthcare system in Ireland.

“This evening’s recommendations are sensible solutions to a problem that can no longer be pushed under the carpet. Any dismissal or dilution by the Government of the Committee’s work would fly in the face of public opinion and undermine the hard work done by both the Citizens’ Assembly and by Committee members across the political spectrum.

Date for Referendum

Following this evening’s vote, the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment called on the Government to immediately set a date for a referendum on abortion.

In conclusion Ms Smith stated: “We’re calling on the Government to confirm the date for the referendum on the Eighth Amendment before Christmas and to bring any outstanding legislative work to a speedy conclusion.

“Over the coming months, the Coalition will be campaigning with our members throughout Ireland to achieve a positive referendum result, to end the punitive Irish regime which has caused such distress, hardship and injustice for a very long time.

“We would like to see media give the electorate access to the same independent, evidence-based information that has shaped the Citizens’ Assembly Committee’s recommendations and to cover this issue in the coming weeks and months in a similar non-sensational and responsible way.”