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Citizens' Assembly recommends abortion to be allowed without restrictions up to 12 weeks

The results of the ballot were announced this afternoon.

Updated 4:40pm

Here is a brief summary of what the Citizens’ Assembly recommended this weekend:

  • An overwhelming 87% voted to recommend against retaining the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, as it currently exists.
  • It recommended to replace or amend the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution – and not to repeal it.
  • It recommended to provide a provision in the Constitution for the Oireachtas to legislate on abortion, the rights of the unborn and any rights of pregnant women.
  • It recommended that terminations should be allowed without restriction up to the 12th week of pregnancy.
  • It recommended that terminations should be allowed due to “socio-economic reasons” up to the 22nd week of pregnancy.
  • In cases of fatal foetal abnormality where the child is likely to die shortly before, or after, birth it recommended abortion be permitted during any period of the pregnancy.

THE CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY has recommended that abortion should be legal without restriction up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

In a vote this afternoon, the members were asked whether women should be allowed access to termination without restriction as to reasons.

In the ballot, the assembly members had a number of different options in relation to gestational term limits.

After the votes were counted, almost two-thirds (64%) agreed that termination should be allowed without restriction as to reasons.

Out of the 87 valid votes cast, 29 people (36%) said terminations should not be available without restriction.

Of those who felt termination should be available without restriction, the largest vote largest vote (48%) was to allow a termination without restriction up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

In total, members voted on 13 reasons for which they feel a termination should or shouldn’t be lawful.

In each of the 13 reasons there were a number of options that refer to gestational term limits and members were able to say that termination should not be allowed at all.

In a question that gauged their recommendation on terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, 59% said there should be no restriction on when a legal termination could take place.

As today’s meeting is now concluded, Chairperson Justice Mary Laffoy will prepare a report for the Oireachtas that will be delivered before the end of June.

An Oireachtas committee is being established to examine its recommendations.

A referendum would be required if the government proceeded with the assembly’s recommendation.

Laffoy’s report will be based on the results of the voting as well as the ballots themselves and any other recommendations assembly members have themselves made.

Reaction

In a statement, the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment said that the Citizens’ Assembly have made it clear that the Oireachtas must assume responsibility for legislating on the issue.

Its convenor Ailbhe Smyth said: “The government cynically established the Citizens’ Assembly to avoid making difficult decisions themselves.

Through their hard work and dedication, the Assembly members concluded what the government should have known all along: that is the role of the legislature to decide.

Smyth added that the recommendations represent a “real step towards ending Ireland’s abortion ban”.

In a press conference this evening, Smyth said that it should be possible to hold a referendum in the spring of 2018. She also said that she has no reason to believe that the Oireachtas will not deliver what the assembly has recommended.

They tally with public opinion and that’s very, very clear. We would certainly be urging the Joint Oireachtas Committee to see that 99 members from around the country are coming up with stunningly high proportions. Over two-thirds on request, 73% for socio-economic reasons, health and so forth.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, called it a “truly momentous leap for the human rights of women and girls in Ireland”.

Its Irish director Colm O’Gorman added that the assembly has done what it’s been tasked to do.

“That means the Oireachtas has a clear responsibility and there’s a clear expectation that the Oireachtas will follow through and deliver on these recommendations. It would frankly be unthinkable were they not to, ” he said.

The assembly’s recommendation was also welcomed by the National Women’s Council of Ireland and the Union of Students in Ireland.

The Pro Life Campaign (PLC) said that the Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendation would lead to “abortion on demand”.

Speaking on behalf of the PLC, Cora Sherlock accused the assembly of having a one-sided approach.

She added that, on any possible referendum on the Eighth Amendment that would remove the provision guaranteeing the right to life of an unborn child, “it’s far from certain that it would pass”.

- With reporting from Sean Murray

Read: No repeal: Citizens’ Assembly recommends replacing or amending Eighth Amendment

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