The first steps to setting up a citizens’ assembly to examine possible changes to abortion laws will be brought before the Cabinet today.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has committed to setting up the 100-member assembly within six months, which means the new body will be unlikely to begin its work until closer to the end of the year.
The memo going to the Cabinet today will also include reference to the need for fresh legislation to amend the electoral register, in order for the members of the new assembly to be chosen from the public. This is to ensure that it is updated so a fair, representative sample of citizens are chosen for the new body.
However, Mr Kenny will not as part of the memo bring any information about the terms of the new assembly or about who its chair might be.
Government sources said that would be addressed after the summer, after the Dáil resolution is passed for the new body.
Meanwhile, former senator and pro-life campaigner Fidelma Healy Eames wrote to the Cabinet ahead of its meeting today calling for the Government to carry out research with women who have had abortions.
In the letter, Ms Healy Eames said: “Before you remove the ‘right to life’, the highest right in our Constitution, why don’t you ask women who have gone through the pain of abortion, what, if anything, would have helped them to keep their unborn baby?
“This is surely the key question, the compassionate question, we need to ask… This piece of research should be commissioned independently and immediately by the Government.
“Hearing the voices (anonymous of course) of a large scale sample of women affected by abortion is also more likely to carry much more weight than a citizens’ assembly that many already see as a ready-up for abortion.
“At the very least this research can be carried out alongside.”
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