Citizen’s Assembly to hold first formal debate today over abortion

Both pro-life and pro-choice campaigners will debate the issue

Citizen’s Assembly to hold first formal debate today over abortion

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy addressing members of the Citizens Assembly. Image: Conor O'Mearain / Maxwell Photography

The Citizens' Assembly will hold its first formal debate on the Eighth Amendment today as the body continues to consider constitutional restrictions on abortion.

The members will hear from experts on the medical, legal and ethical issues raised by fatal and other foetal abnormalities and how they relate to the human rights of women and the current constitutional protection of the unborn.

Ireland’s Catholic Bishops and the Pro-Life Campaign have both criticised the assembly's use of the term "fatal foetal abnormalities" in the agenda for the meeting.

The bishops' said that the use of such a term implies that death is both an imminent and inevitable outcome of certain medical conditions.

Today's meeting is the second out of four which will focus on how the 100 randomly selected members should advise legislators later in the year on the future of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution which explicitly recognises the right to life of an unborn child.

A spokeswomen for the Citizen's assembly said on Friday evening that "This weekend is when the rubber will start to hit the road, I guess."

It is not yet clear if the members will decide to issue recommendations in a particular direction, or whether they will present a range of options for the Government and the Oireachtas to consider.

Gerry Edwards spokesperson for the Terminations for Medical Reasons group said he is concerned about possible delays, in the case that the assembly and the government decide to call a referendum on the issue