Coalition calling for a May date for the Referendum to be confirmed this week
In advance of this week’s Dáil and Seanad debates on the Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, Convener of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, Ailbhe Smyth, urges politicians from all political parties and none to support the findings of the Oireachtas Committee.
Commenting today, Ms. Smyth said: “The recommendation by the Joint Committee that women’s healthcare does not belong in the Constitution and their clear recommendation to fully repeal the Eighth Amendment were the result of careful and patient engagement with expert legal and healthcare advice. The additional recommendations propose sensible solutions to a problem that has resulted in decades of suffering and silence. Any dismissal or dilution by politicians 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.
“We also hope that politicians will keep at the forefront of their minds the recent settlement by the State of litigation in the Mellet v. Ireland case and the recommendations by various international human rights bodies that Ireland must address their human rights obligations to provide access to abortion for women living in Ireland.”
Ms Smyth continued: “Very rarely have politicians been given such a wealth of meticulous evidence and deliberations to educate them about an issue. They have been expertly informed about the needs of women in Ireland for abortion healthcare. If there are divergent views about managing changes to abortion law, let’s discuss them. What we know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that turning a blind eye to the abortion care women need is having a detrimental, and sometimes fatal impact on women’s health.
“Over the next three days, the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment expects to see much of the evidence presented to the Joint Oireachtas Committee under the spotlight in Leinster House. We fully expect that politicians in both Houses – including an Taoiseach – will respond to the requests of our own senior medical experts that a referendum be held proposing straightforward repeal of the Eighth Amendment. The Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee suggests a framework of care which would meet women’s needs and we look forward to Oireachtas support for its recommendations, followed swiftly by Government approval for the holding of a referendum”
Ms Smyth concluded: ““We hope that the Government will confirm a May date for the referendum on the Eighth Amendment by the end of this week and bring the outstanding legislative work to a speedy conclusion so that the people can finally have their say on this vital issue.”