Long road ahead for Eighth Amendment referendum

Both sides in the debate have expressed confidence of victory in any upcoming vote

Long road ahead for Eighth Amendment referendum

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews

Updated 11:05

The public are being warned that there is still a long road ahead before any referendum on Ireland’s abortion laws.

The Oireachtas Committee yesterday voted in favour of repealing the 8th amendment and on the circumstances in which abortion should be allowed.

Members recommended that abortions be allowed for any reason, up to the 12th week of pregnancy; while also calling for abortion to be decriminalised.

The non-binding report is due to be published next week, and debated by the Oireachtas in the new year.

The Taoiseach has said he would like to see a referendum on the issue in May or June.

A bill to allow the referendum to take place would have to be published by February at the latest in order for this to happen.

On Newstalk Breakfast, Labour TD Joan Burton is pleased at the developments so far:

“I believe it shouldn’t be in the Constitution; I believe it should be repealed,” she said.

“I think the Committee did very good work – in particular in hearing the different stories of women – young women, older women – affected by this.

“I think they made a good decision.

“It will now be for the people to decide.”

Referendum

Meanwhile, Both sides in the debate have said they are confident of persuading the public in any referendum vote.

The Pro Life campaign has branded the committee’s findings "appalling."

However, Dr Krysia Lynch, chairperson of Aims Ireland, said repealing the Eighth is all about ensuring the best outcomes for women:

“We want safe motherhood for everybody who is pregnant in Ireland,” she said.

“We want maternity care without any restrictions.

“We want human rights for anybody that is involved in maternity care – both people who are going through it and also people working in it – and the repeal of the Eighth is really the only way to achieve that.”

She said she believes that, when the facts are laid out, the public will vote for repeal.

“Where we have the full facts – that we are not looking at emotive issues we are just looking at the full facts surrounding what women’s health care is like in Ireland and what women and mothers need in order to have safe pregnancies – I think the nation probably will see sense and also vote for repeal,” she said.

Referendum

However, Cora Sherlock from the Pro-Life Campaign said the committee's recommendations disregard the rights of unborn children – and said she believes the public will vote to retain the Eighth.

“It is a great thing that the public will have the final say on the Eighth Amendment,” she said.

“Because what the Committee has done is they have shown a really frightening disregard for the right to life of unborn children.

“That is something that everybody should be very concerned about.

“They have ignored the humanity of the unborn child.”

In order for a referendum to be held in May, legislation must be passed in January.

There is some confusion over whether this will be possible as TDs will not return from their holidays until January 16th.