Oireachtas committee issues report recommending repeal of 8th amendment

TDs and senators will debate the findings early next year, with plans for a referendum in May or June

Oireachtas committee issues report recommending repeal of 8th amendment

Image: Sean Defoe

An Oireachtas committee has issued its report recommending a repeal of the 8th amendment.

The report, which has now been published online, comes after members of the committee - which considered the recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly - voted last week on a series of measures.

The assembly had rejected a simple repeal of the 8th amendment - which recognises the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child - and instead recommended giving the Oireachtas the authority to determine Ireland's abortion legislation.

However, the committee found that the assembly's recommendation "would be more adequately addressed by way of simple repeal".

They also recommend that abortion without restriction should be allowed for up to 12 weeks into the pregnancy, and to allow abortion in the cases of fatal foetal abnormality without any term restrictions.

The recommendations also say abortion should be decriminalised and should be allowed in circumstances supervised by a medical practitioner.

Speaking as the report was published, committee chair Senator Catherine Noone explained: “What is clear to me is that two inclusive processes - one made up of citizens, the other of politicians - have now concluded their deliberations and have both recommended a change in our constitution, some access to terminations and a greater focus on women's health and their experiences.

“What we are proposing is a major change, and it will take time for people to consider and understand how we came to these recommendations. Most proposals have cross-party support which is of great significance and the views expressed in this Report reflect where we now are as a society."

She added: "I commend the Members for their commitment given that this is a topic that is far from easy and I say that in respect of all views which were reflected in the Committee. I hope our work will assist the wider membership of the Houses of the Oireachtas and ultimately the people in a referendum."

Senator Noone also called on TDs and senators to "really engage with the evidence" when the subject of an abortion referendum is debated in the Oireachtas next year:

Three members of the committee - TDs Mattie McGrath and Peter Fitzpatrick, along with Senator Ronan Mullen - disagreed with the findings, and are due to issue a minority report today.

The committee's report, meanwhile, will be debated by the Oireachtas when politicians return from the Christmas holidays, with a referendum on the 8th amendment likely in May or June next year.

Additional reporting by Sean Defoe