Saturday 21 July 2018

Bill to allow for referendum on abortion law changes passes latest stage

Leo Varadkar said the Government would respect the result of a referendum.

The Taoiseach said the Government would respect the outcome of a referendum (Niall Carson/PA)
The Taoiseach said the Government would respect the outcome of a referendum (Niall Carson/PA)

By Lesley-Anne McKeown, Press Association

A bill to allow for a referendum on changes to abortion legislation has passed its latest stage in the Dail.

Some 110 TDs voted to move the 36th Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018 to committee stage, with 32 voting against.

The majority (21) Fianna Fail TDs opposed the bill while 20 were in favour of asking voters if they want to retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Two Fine Gael TDs, one from Sinn Fein and eight Independents also voted against the bill.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government would respect the result of a referendum.

He said: “The Government will respect the result of the referendum. If the vote is passed, I hope people respect that.

“If the referendum is defeated the Government will respect that decision and will not bring forward a proposal for a new referendum during the period of this government.”

He was responding to a question from Independent TD Mattie McGrath who suggested some people “feared” there may be a second referendum if the result went against the Government.

Irish citizens will decide on the fate of the contentious Eighth Amendment of the state’s constitution in an anticipated referendum this summer.

Currently, terminations are only allowed in the Irish Republic when the life of the mother is at risk, including from suicide, and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.

Campaigners are seeking to liberalise the regime to allow for unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.

If the referendum is given the go-ahead by parliament, citizens will be asked whether they want to remove the Eighth Amendment, which gives equal right to life to the mother and the unborn, and replace it with wording that would allow politicians to set Ireland’s abortion laws in the future.

Press Association

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