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Repeal simpliciter: Here is the final report of the Eighth Amendment Committee

The committee answered questions from reporters this afternoon.

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THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT Committee has launched its final report, in which it recommends that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution should be repealed.

You can read the report, in full, here.

Article 40.3.3 deals with the right to life of a pregnant mother and her unborn. Its place in the Constitution effectively bans abortion from taking place legally in most scenarios in Ireland.

With today’s majority report, the cross-party committee members “acknowledged that the current constitutional provision prohibiting the termination of pregnancy in Ireland is unfit for purpose and that constitutional reform is necessary”.

The report is the conclusion to a three-month process which saw the 21 deputies and senators examine the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly and listen to evidence from expert legal and medical practitioners.

“It is fair to say that the issue of abortion remains one of the most divisive issues in Irish life and people hold deeply held views on the matter,” chair Catherine Noone said this afternoon.

“To that end the work of the Joint Committee was never about one side or the other. It was about women’s health and how best to ensure swift and safe support in sensitive and difficult cases. Termination of pregnancy and indeed continuation of pregnancy is not a black or white issue. Every case is unique.”

She noted that the change being proposed is major and that people will need to be educated on the issues surrounding terminations, including the availability of abortion pills online, the complexities of rape and incest cases and “the reality that thousands of Irish women are already accessing abortion services each year”.

There were dissenting voices on the 21-member committee, with two TDs and one senator declining to sign it.

The report recommends:

  • termination of pregnancy should be lawful where the life or health of the woman is at risk and that a distinction should not be drawn between the physical and mental health of the woman;
  • provision for gestational limits for termination of pregnancy should be guided by the best available medical evidence and be provided for in legislation;
  • that any assessments in relation to the termination of pregnancy where the life or the health of the woman is at risk should be made by no fewer than two specialist physicians;
  • that it shall be lawful to terminate a pregnancy without gestational limit where the unborn child has a foetal abnormality that is likely to result in death before or shortly after birth;
  • the law should not provide for the termination of pregnancy on the ground that the unborn child has a significant foetal abnormality where such abnormality is not likely to result in death before or shortly after birth;
  • the law should be amended to permit termination of pregnancy with no restriction as to reason provided that it is availed of through a GP-led service delivered in a clinical context as determined by law and licencing practice in Ireland with a gestational limit of 12 weeks.

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