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After huge vote to push for change to Ireland's abortion laws, the Assembly is deciding what they should look like

The Citizens’ Assembly voted by 87% against maintaining the status quo.

citizens assembly Citizens' Assembly members voting in the Grand Hotel in Malahide. Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

THE CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY is today tasked with providing guidance to the Oireachtas on the circumstances it feels the termination of pregnancy should be legal.

The assembly yesterday voted overwhelmingly to recommend changing Ireland’s strict abortion laws.

The members of the assembly voted against deleting the Eighth Amendment to the constitution but instead voted to replace it.

They recommended a constitutional provision that directs the Oireachtas to legislate on the termination of pregnancy and any rights of the unborn and the pregnant woman.

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

The assembly’s next vote, which is currently underway, provides them with an opportunity to state the reasons and circumstances for which they feel a termination should be lawful.

In the draft ballot paper prepared before today eight reasons were included but this was expanded to 13 after a vote from members.

In each of the 13 reasons there are a number of options that refer to gestational term limits. In each circumstance the members may select that they feel a termination should not be allowed.

Among the changes that were included by members were additional questions that referred to the ‘risk’ to the mother. An earlier draft of the ballot referred only to ‘serious risk’.

In addition, another reason has been included that allows members state to which extent they feel ‘socio-economic reasons’ should constitute a legal ground for termination.

This is the ballot paper members will be voting on. It will be the final vote they take on the issue of Eighth Amendment.

After today’s meeting is 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.

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.

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’ >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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