New campaign group calls for abortion referendum

There are fresh calls for a referendum on abortion, with a new campaign group urging a repeal of the eighth amendment giving an equal right to the life of a pregnant woman and the unborn child.

New campaign group calls for abortion referendum

They want the question of allowing terminations in cases of rape or when a foetus has no chance of survival outside the womb, to be discussed by the Constitutional Convention. The Abortion Rights Campaign will be supported by a number of TDs who plan to raise the issue in the Dáil.

Senior ministers have acknowledged the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act, passed in the summer, is not perfect because it does not allow abortions in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormalities. But Coalition parties are unlikely to want to revisit the thorny subject soon, particularly Fine Gael, who lost five TDs over the legislation.

The Abortion Rights Campaign includes high profile organisations such as the National Women’s Council, the Council for Civil Liberties, Doctors for Choice, the Union of Students, the Unite Trade Union and Terminations for Medical Reasons. In a statement yesterday, the group said the new act “ignores the needs of women who decide that having an abortion is in their best interest, and criminalises women and those who support them, including their doctors, if they access abortion here in Ireland”.

It said women have “suffered and died” as a result of the eighth amendment, passed by 66% to 33% in a 1983 referendum, including Savita Halappanavar.

Jacqueline Healy of the National Women’s Council said the new law “only deals with a tiny number of cases and will not change anything for the majority of women with crisis pregnancies in this country”.

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