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It looks like Labour's next manifesto will commit to widening Ireland's abortion laws

The Tánaiste is also in favour of repealing the 8th Amendment.

Tánaiste Joan Burton
Tánaiste Joan Burton
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE LABOUR PARTY is likely to include a commitment to legislate for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality in its next election manifesto and could also include a commitment to repeal the 8th Amendment.

Tánaiste Joan Burton is on record as saying she would like cases of fatal foetal abnormality covered by abortion law in this country and has also indicated she could support legislating for abortion in cases of rape and incest.

“I am aware that not every woman would wish to terminate her pregnancy in the case of a fatal foetal abnormality,” she told the Dáil during the debate on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act last year.

“For those who do, however, It is my personal belief that they should be enabled to do so here in Ireland.”

Burton also said at a Labour leadership hustings in Portlaoise in June that she would favour a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment which enshrines in the Constitution the equal right to life of the mother and her unborn child.

Labour’s official policy, as voted on at its last party conference, is that the party should commit to making it legal to obtain an abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality in its next manifesto.

Labour’s last general election manifesto in 2011 included a commitment to legislate for the X Case which was done last year when the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill was passed into law.

Several members of the parliamentary party have indicated in the wake of the latest abortion controversy that they also would support a referendum being held to repeal the 8th Amendment.

At the Labour leadership hustings in Portlaoise in June, Burton said that while she favoured the repeal of the 8th, the party’s existing mandate had been to legislate for X therefore a new mandate would be required to go further.

A source close to the Tánaiste said there needed to be extensive discussions and research into how any manifesto commitment on abortion should be framed given the sensitivity of the issue.

Any commitment to hold a referendum on repealing the 8th Amendment would require detail on what would replace it if the vote is passed, the source said.

Explainer: What is the 8th Amendment?

Read: These Labour TDs and Senators think we should have another abortion referendum

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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