Call for 'reproductive justice' as Government prepares for abortion vote

Katherine Zappone says there is determination to hold the vote before the summer

Call for 'reproductive justice' as Government prepares for abortion vote

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone at The Ark in Dublin | Image: Leah Farrell/

The Children's Minister Katherine Zappone says the Government is working on the wording for an abortion referendum next year.

She was speaking at the opening of the Kennedy Summer School in Wexford on Thursday night.

Minister Zappone stressed the need for 'reproductive justice' in Ireland.

She told the audience: "Equality is a rich and complex concept. So much more than protections and guarantees, it is being empowered to see, take, and benefit from opportunities that arise.

"This often requires hard conversations and hard work.

"One of those hard conversations is about the 8th amendment, which denies women full reproductive rights.

"Instead, it oppresses us with the burden of choicelessness.

"Choicelessness is not only about the ability to decide whether to remain pregnant, but about the ability to decide what is done to our bodies, including in pregnancy and labour.

"That is why repealing the 8th amendment is about reproductive rights for all women, including those who want to continue with their pregnancies.

"Of course, for those who don't the 8th Amendment means they cannot access abortion in Ireland."

 'Those who can become pregnant unequal to those who cannot'

"As a woman, a progressive, a campaigner and a Government minister I firmly believe we need a system of reproductive justice - which must include a referendum on reproductive rights.

"We must trust women to make decisions for themselves and their families, and ensure that our structures mean those decisions really are choices.

"True reproductive justice means building a society where the care of children is a collective effort, properly supported by the State."

"The referendum next year will be part but not all of ensuring reproductive justice in Ireland."

"Without repealing the 8th amendment and the clear establishment of reproductive rights for all, those who can become pregnant in Ireland will be unequal to those who cannot.

"That situation simply cannot persist."

Speaking to Newstalk afterwards, Minister Zappone said: "What the Taoiseach I think has already said is his desire and determination to hold it before the summer.

"I think there are two things we're working on now: one is the wording of the referendum itself - and it seems many, many people want a full repeal of the 8th amendment.

"And we also have to listen to the citizens from the Citizens' Assembly, who recommended that we should have an amendment to that to include and to insist that it really is the power of Oireachtas members to legislate for abortion.

"Secondly, I think what's really important - and I know it's important to the Taoiseach too - is that as we bring the wording of the referendum to the people that we will also have in front of them a scheme of a bill in relation to the kind of abortion legislation that would be put in place if a referendum were to succeed".