Citizens' Assembly to hear from both sides in debate on Eighth Amendment

Update 11.15am: Dr Joan McCarthy, a lecturer in Healthcare Ethics in the School of Nursing and Midwifery in University College Cork (UCC), 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.

Dr Dónal O’Mathúna of Dublin City University criticised what he called the "self-rule autonomy" view of pregnancy which, he claims, leads to isolation of the parents and the failure of fathers of unborn children to assume their responsibilities.

He also argued that Irish society has been urged to follow the example of families who have made difficult choices to parent unplanned grandchildren or to open their arms to women and babies in need.

Earlier: The Citizens' Assembly will meet again today to discuss the issue of abortion and the Eighth Amendment.

Two opposing viewpoints on people's right to choose, to have an abortion or not, will be heard by the group later this morning.

Academic experts, with opposing views on on the ethical issues surrounding people's right to choose to have an abortion or not, will be presented to the assembly later this morning.

Yesterday, the group of 99 citizens heard from experts on the availability of terminations in other countries, as well as presentations on the issue of pregnancies and abortions after rape.

Today is the conclusion of the assembly's third of five meetings on the issue of abortion and the eighth amendment.

The group of 99 citizens is due to make recommendations to the Oireachtas on whether another referendum on the issue should be held in future.

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