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

The Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendation will be sent to the Oireachtas.

Updated 6.17 pm

PastedImage-12415 Source: CitizensAssembly.ie

THE CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY has voted to recommend that the Eighth Amendment be replaced or amended, not repealed.

It means that the citizen-led body set up by the Oireachtas has recommended that Ireland’s constitution deal with abortion in some way, but in a different way than it currently does.

If this recommendation was accepted by the Oireachtas it would mean that a referendum would be required.

The vote was by 50 votes to 39. A total of 91 members of the assembly were present at today’s meeting and all voted. Two people decided not to state an opinion.

The question put to them was:

Do you think Article 40.3.3 should be repealed (i.e. deleted and not replaced) or replaced or amended?
  • Option 1 – Article 40.3.3 should be repealed (i.e. deleted and not replaced)
  • Option 2 – Article 40.3.3 should be replaced and amended
  • Prefer not to state an opinion.

Earlier today, members voted that the Eighth Amendment should not be retained in full.

This latest vote was designed to see what kind of change they favoured.

Up to four votes will be taken over the next two days depending on the decisions taken by the assembly members.

A draft wording of each of the votes has been prepared in advance but the final wording of the ballots may be changed ahead of a vote if it is deemed necessary.

In the first vote, the members voted on whether the Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion should remain. They were given two options in this case.

The first question put to them was:

Do you think Article 40.3.3 should be retained in full or not retained in full?
  • Option 1 – Article 40.3.3 should be retained in full
  • Option 2 – Article 40.3.3 should not be retained in full

The result led to an 87% vote against retaining Article 40.3.3 of the constitution.

That amendment was effected in 1983 after a referendum and acknowledges the right to life of the unborn, equating it with the mother’s right to life.

Source: The Citizens' Assembly/YouTube

The next vote was held at 1.20pm and asked if the favoured repealing or replacing/amending the Eighth Amendment.

The results were as follows:

PastedImage-41808 Source: CitizensAssembly.ie

Before the members vote in Ballot 2 there was an explanation of the wording of the ballot and a roundtable discussion on the draft wording of the question.

Members were free to put questions to Laffoy and an expert advisory group. The advisory group is made up of legal and medical experts.

No changes were made to the wording of the ballot.

Following their recommendation that the Eighth Amendment be replaced or amended, members were then asked how they think change should be enacted.

Before the vote and after recommendation and vote from members, the draft of Ballot 3 was changed to make explicit reference to ‘the rights of the pregnant woman’.

This is Ballot 3 that members voted on:

AMENDMENT Source: CitizensAssembly.ie

In the first option, members were given the option to state that the constitution should authorise the Oireachtas to legislate for abortion. The assembly voted by a majority of 57% for this option.

The other option would have recommended that the Eighth Amendment be replaced or amended with a constitutional provision that directly addresses termination of pregnancy, any rights of the unborn, and any rights of the pregnant woman.

As they have chosen Option 1, members will now be asked to provide guidance to the Oireachtas about the circumstances, if any, in which they feel abortion should be lawful.

This is the ballot that will gauge their recommendations:

PastedImage-97032 Source: CitizensAssembly.ie

Ballot 4B will be addressed by the Citizens’ Assembly tomorrow.

The report from Laffoy to the Oireachtas will be based on the results of the voting as well as the ballots themselves and any other recommendations assembly members have themselves made.

That report is due to be delivered to the Oireachtas before the end of June and a committee is being established to examine its recommendations.

The Citizens’ Assembly continues tomorrow.

Read: The Citizens’ Assembly votes on abortion today. Here’s how it will play out >

Read: ‘My only thought was if this plane crashes everyone is going to know that I’m pregnant’ >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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