Citizens' Assembly holds debate on issue of 8th amendment

Sunday is the conclusion of the assembly's third meeting

Citizens' Assembly holds debate on issue of 8th amendment

Tom O'Malley from NUI Galway speaking at the Citizens' Assembly in the Grand Hotel, Malahide on the 8th amendment of the Constitution | Image: Rollinngnews.ie

The Citizens' Assembly has heard two opposing view points on a pregnant woman's right to choose an abortion.

The group of 99 citizens is concluding its third of five meetings on the issue of abortion and the 8th amendment.

Academic experts, with opposing views on on the ethical issues surrounding people's right to choose to have an abortion or not, were presented.

Dr Joan McCarthy is a lecturer in Healthcare Ethics in the School of Nursing and Midwifery in University College Cork (UCC).

She presented a pro-choice perceptive to the assembly this morning.

Ailbhe Smyth, from the Coalition to Repeal the 8th, said Dr McCarthy's presentation highlighted the fact that Ireland's abortion laws go against the National Consent Policy of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

"It's really impossible for that principal of autonomy to be respected in relation to a women who is pregnant in this country - that it is simply that right to make decisions for herself about her life, about her health, about her future - that that is removed in effect by the existence of the 8th amendment", she said.

Yesterday, the group heard from experts on the availability of terminations in other countries, as well as presentations on the issue of pregnancies and abortions after rape.

The assembly heard that 3,451 women from the Republic of Ireland traveled to England or Wales for an abortion in 2015.

A consultant in fetal medicine from Birmingham's Women and Children Hospital, Dr Peter Thompson, said that 135 of these women traveled to have a termination due to a fetal anomaly.

The group is due to make recommendations to the Oireachtas on whether another referendum on the issue should be held in future.