Simon Harris set to back ‘enabling’ clause on abortion

Simon Harris is to formally seek approval for a referendum as a poll shows majority back repealing the Eighth Amendment, writes Daniel McConnell.

Health Minister Simon Harris is likely to recommend replacing the Eighth Amendment with another clause as opposed to a simple repeal when the Cabinet meets on Monday.

The Irish Examiner understands that Mr Harris, in consultation with the Attorney General, is leaning toward the option of adding enabling legislation to affirm the right of the Oireachtas to set laws.

However, Government sources have stressed that his proposal will not go as far as what was recommended by the Citizen’s Assembly, which would have firmly excluded the courts from a role.

On Monday Mr Harris is set to seek formal approval from the Cabinet to hold a referendum, outline his position on the wording of that referendum as well as outlining his approach to what legislation would exist, should the people decide to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution.

The Pro Life Campaign say they are confident the polls will change once more information about abortion gets through to people.

The comments were in response to an Irish Times poll which said only 29% of people are against repealing the Eighth Amendment and bringing in more liberal abortion laws. A majority (56% of voters) said they were in favour of the change, with 15% undecided.

Cora Sherlock from the Pro Life Campaign says she is confident that view will shift ahead of the vote.

“When we hear more about families who have children saved by the Eighth because it is just something we haven’t seen in the debate so far. I know from my own work with the Pro Life Movement, when the public become aware of those things it can be a message for them.

“When they see that there are children who are alive thanks to the Eighth Amendment — which is the reality then they have no interest in dismantling it.”

Meanwhile, Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger TD said campaigners cannot get complacent after the latest opinion poll.

It shows 56% of people are in favour of scrapping the Eighth Amendment and legislating for abortion without restriction up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy. The poll found 29% of voters were against repeal.

Ms Coppinger said they need to build on the figures revealed by The Irish Times.

“There is no room for complacency because the poll shows the absolute necessity to get young people out (to vote), and those in urban areas, to guarantee the referendum is passed,” said Coppinger.

“For that to happen, May is the optimal time for maximum youth and student involvement.”

A majority of people are in favour of repealing the Eighth and allowing abortion without restriction for up to 12 weeks, according to a new poll.

The irish Times/MRBI poll showed 56% would be in favour of the move, with just 29% against.

The poll suggests there is a clear majority of people in favour of repeal, with an almost 2-1 lead when undecided voters are discounted.

Support for repeal is strongest among younger voters, women and people living in Dublin.

Almost one in five people said their views had changed on the matter in the last year and moved towards a more liberal system.

Reasons like thinking a woman has the right to choose, the news media and becoming more informed were cited for the changes of opinion.

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