Latest: Health Minister to begin work on wording of potential legislation on abortion

The public are being warned that there is still a long road ahead before we see a referendum on abortion.

Latest: Health Minister to begin work on wording of potential legislation on abortion

Update 3.22pm: The Health Minister is to begin working with the Attorney General on the wording of potential supplementary legislation on abortion.

The Oireachtas will debate the recommendations of the Committee on the 8th Amendment in the New Year and decide on the wording of the Referendum.

It is expected that potential legislation will be published in tandem with this to enable people to see what the effects of any vote would be.

The Tánaiste said there is a lot of work to be done before the referendum.

"Minister Harris has made it very clear that he needs to work with the Attorney General in terms of putting together the heads of a piece of legislation in order to create a context and environment for a referendum," Minister Coveney said.

"There will be need for legislation to facilitate the Referendum itself also. My understanding is that Minister Harris has said he would certainly like to have a lot of that work done before the middle of March next year," he added.

Update: 10am: Public warned there is a long way to go before referendum on abortion

The public are being warned that there is still a long road ahead before we see a referendum on abortion.

The Oireachtas Committee yesterday voted in favour of repealing the Eighth amendment and on the circumstances in which abortion should be allowed.

It will publish a non-binding report next week, which will be debated by the Oireachtas in the new year.

A bill to allow the referendum to take place would have to be published by February at the latest to allow for a referendum by June.

Labour TD Joan Burton is pleased at the developments so far.

"I believe it shouldn't be in the Constitution, I believe it should be repealed," Ms Burton said.

"I think the committee did very good work - in particular, in hearing different stories of women, young women, older women, who have been affected by this.

"I think they made a good decision. It will now be for the people to decide."

Joan Burton
Joan Burton

Update 8.30am: Individuals and groups from both sides of the Eighth Amendment debate have been reacting to yesterdays decisions by the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.

Both pro-life and pro-choice campaigners are insisting their side will win, in an Eighth Amendment referendum that has been pencilled in for next summer.

Main points:

                      • An Oireachtas Committee has recommended a full repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. That would decriminalise abortion, which would allow women to get abortion pills online or have one carried out by a certified medical practitioner.
                    • They recommended to legislate to allow abortion on request up to 12 weeks of the pregnancy.
                    • The committee has also voted in favour of allowing abortion in the case of a risk to the woman’s health, either physical or mental.
                    • That would legalise terminations in cases of risk by suicide.
                    • They also support terminations in cases of rape and in relation to fatal foetal abnormalities.
                    • Two of the Citizens’ Assembly’s 12 recommendations were not supported: terminations for socio-economic reasons and significant but non-fatal foetal abnormalities.

Cora Sherlock of the Pro-Life Campaign believes the committee’s recommendations disregarded the rights of unborn children.

Cora Sherlock
Cora Sherlock

"It is a great thing that the public will have the final say on the Eighth Amendment because what the committee have done is they have shown a really frightening disregard for the rights of unborn children," Ms Sherlock said.

"I believe that everybody should be very concerned about the way they have ignored the humanity of an unborn child."

Ms Sherlock believes that the public will vote to retain the Eighth Amendment saying: "Particularly in this case due to the imbalance on the committee the public hasn’t had the chance to hear the reality of what abortion means in other countries and how it affects society.

"For example, in the UK where one in every five pregnancies now ends in abortion.

"So I am confident that once the public gets to hear that information that they will vote against the repeal of the Eighth Amendment."

Meanwhile, Dr Krysia Lynch who is chair of AIMS believes that when the facts are laid out, the public will vote to get rid of the Eighth Amendment.

"Where we have the full facts that we’re not looking at emotive issues, we are just looking at the full facts about what women’s healthcare is like in Ireland and what women and mothers essentially need in order to have safe pregnancies then I think the nation probably will see sense and vote for repeal."

Dr Lynch says repealing the Eighth is about having the best outcomes for women.

"We want safe motherhood for everyone who is pregnant in Ireland, we want maternity care without any restrictions," Dr Lynch said.

"We want human rights for everybody that’s involved in maternity care both people who are going through it and people who are working in it and the repeal of the Eighth Amendment is really the only way to achieve that."

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