Repeal of Eighth 'will not lead to the spectre of late abortions'

Tyler Owen
March 11, 2018

If approved, the move would repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution, which guarantees equal rights for mothers and their unborn children, and pave the way for the government to radically liberalise the country's abortion laws.

A policy paper outlining what will be in place should the eighth amendment be repealed will be debated is an affirmative vote is passed in the referendum.

Global Positioning System and medical practitioners will lead the service, which will be done by administering abortion pills.

Simon Harris introduced the referendum bill in the Dáil earlier, and in a speech he argued there needs to take a "quantum leap" forward on abortion.

If the Eighth Amendment is repealed, women will be able to have an abortion up to 12 weeks into their pregnancy regulated through a GP-led service.

That wording will be: 'Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies'.

Currently, terminations are allowed only when the life of the mother is at risk, and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said this referendum is about asking citizens to allow women to make major decisions for themselves. "Retaining the Eighth Amendment will not prevent it from happening".

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"This work has so far established that provision of free access to contraception methods, which are now limited to those with eligibility through the Primary Care Reimbursement Services, would require enabling primary legislation", said Harris.

Mr Harris said this brief period of time would allow women to consider of all of the options before making an informed decision.

A change to the law would be a monumental step for Ireland, where since 1983 it has been estimated that 170,000 women have left the country to terminate pregnancies.

Fianna Fail TD Billy Kelleher - a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Abortion said Irish women have been failed by the Eighth Amendment.

"It's about trusting women to decide, in the early weeks of their pregnancy, what's right for them and their families", Mr Varadkar said.

It comes after Ireland's Supreme Court ruled that state protections for unborn babies do not extend beyond the right to life.

The debate is due on continue today until 4pm.

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