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'Giving the facts': RefCom has published its information booklet on the upcoming vote

The booklet will be delivered to 2.2 million homes.

PastedImage-93495 The cover of the 16-page booklet. Source: refcom2018.ie

THE INDEPENDENT GUIDE to the upcoming Eighth Amendment referendum has been published online ahead of its delivery to 2.2 million homes across the State.

The Referendum Commission said it will be running “an extensive advertising campaign” across various media and outdoor sites in the coming weeks and last night began its public information campaign on the website refcom2018.ie.

The body says their campaign will be about “giving the facts” on the upcoming vote.

It advises that what is being proposed is a change to the Constitution concerning the “regulation of the termination of pregnancy”.

The 16-page booklet gives a brief history of how the Eighth Amendment (Article 40.3.3) has been interpreted by the Irish courts since it was voted into the Constitution 35 years ago.

The Referendum Commission states that current legal position is that the termination of pregnancy “is lawful only where it poses a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, including a risk of suicide”.

If the upcoming referendum is not passed, this situation will remain and laws can be passed once they do not conflict with this, the Referendum Commission says.

The booklet outlines that the proposal is to replace Article 40.3.3, with a new article:

Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.

“If a majority votes Yes, this will allow the Oireachtas to pass laws regulating the termination of pregnancy. These laws need not limit the availability of termination to circumstances where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, the booklet states.

The Referendum Commission’s remit deals specifically with the 25 May vote so the booklet does not contain any details of the government proposals for the regulation of abortion should the referendum be passed.

The printed guides will be delivered to each home in the country during the first two weeks of next month and also contain a sample ballot paper.

The Referendum Commission is established each time a referendum is called to explain the subject matter to the public. It is independent of government and does not advocate for either side.

PastedImage-33025 Source: refcom2018

“Our role is not to debate the merits or otherwise of the arguments of either side, but to provide an independent, neutral account of what is being proposed, so that voters can be properly informed,” said chairperson Justice Isobel Kennedy.

The Referendum Commission does advocate that people vote in the referendum and is asking eligible voters to check the electoral register to see if they are registered to vote.

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Rónán Duffy

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