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Dublin: 3 °C Thursday 12 December, 2019
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74 TDs have just voted down another abortion bill

A bill providing for a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment was overwhelmingly defeated this evening.

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A BILL TO provide for a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment has been voted down in the Dáil this evening.

TDs voted 74 to 23 to reject the proposed legislation with Sinn Féin and a number of independent TDs supporting the measure.

The bill was opposed by the two government parties and Fianna Fáil.

A number of Labour deputies missed the vote although this is not particularly unusual with several deputies paired due to prior engagements.

Anne Ferris, who lost the Labour party whip in February after supporting United Left deputy Clare Daly’s efforts to legislate for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, was also not present for the vote.

Socialist Party TDs Ruth Coppinger and Joe Higgins tabled the bill in a bid to force a referendum to repeal the controversial amendment. The bill was debated in the Dáil last Friday and voted on this evening.

The 8th Amendment, passed by referendum in 1983, enshrines the equal right to life of the unborn and the mother in the Constitution, and effectively outlaws abortion in Ireland.

The government has repeatedly argued that it has no mandate to hold a referendum on the issue in this Dáil term.

However, Labour has already committed to including a commitment to hold a referendum in its next general election manifesto.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie last week, minister Brendan Howlin described Coppinger’s bill as “opportunist”.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Fine Gael’s position is less clear with diverging views in the party that lost a handful of TDs in 2013 over the legislation that provided for abortions in cases where there is a risk to the life of a woman.

Speaking in the Dáil last Friday, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said that Fine Gael was elected in 2011 on a mandate that the party would not legalise abortion.

The debate: ‘The Dáil is full of men who will never need an abortion, we don’t know what it’s like’

Read: Customs seized 1,017 abortion pills last year

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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