Former Taoiseach John Bruton in favour of retaining Eighth Amendment

He suggests Ireland is one of the few countries with constitutional protection for the right to life

Former Taoiseach John Bruton in favour of retaining Eighth Amendment

John Bruton. Photo: RollingNews.ie

Former Taoiseach John Bruton says he is in favour of retaining the Eighth Amendment - saying the country should be 'proud' of the constitutional measure which restricts abortion.

He claims there will be no protection for the unborn in the Constitution if the amendment is repealed.

The public is expected to vote in a referendum on abortion this summer, with the ballot to ask whether the Eighth Amendment should be appealed and the Oireachtas allowed to legislate in respect of abortion.

The Government, meanwhile, is proposing terminations without restriction up to 12 weeks into pregnancy, or later in the pregnancy in cases where there's a risk to the mother or if there is a fatal foetal abnormality.

John Bruton, however, is firmly against repealing the Eighth Amendment.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, He argued: "We're one of the few countries in the world that actually has in its Constitution a protection for the right to life - not just of a person after they're born, but before they're born as well."

While many women already travel to the UK for abortions, Mr Bruton argued there will be "substantially more" abortions taking place among Irish people if the Eighth is repealed.

He also reiterated his concerns about the experiences of unborn children, arguing: "I suppose nobody knows for sure what pain any other person is feeling even if they're born, because pain is something very internal... I wouldn't think the doctors are in a position to be dogmatic about that.

"I think in any event we should adopt a precautionary principle - if there's any possibility that we could be inflicting pain, I think we should avoid doing so. I believe when an abortion is taking place - particularly if it's a late-term abortion - it's almost certain that the child will suffer pain in the process of being killed."

Others have, however, disputed that argument - with TD Kate O'Connell sharing some of the observations made by medical experts during the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.