Government signs off on referendum bill paving way for vote on abortion
The Government has signed off on the referendum bill paving the way for a vote on abortion.
The Cabinet unanimously agreed to insert in to the constitution the words “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies” should the Eighth Amendment be repealed.
The Eighth Amendment, also known as Article 40.3.3 of the constitution will then be deleted in full, should the referendum pass.
“The women we’re thinking of today, on International Women’s Day are the women who have courageously told personal, sensitive stories”, said Minister for Health Simon Harris.
“Women like Amanda Mellot and Siobhan Whelan who felt like they needed to go to the United Nations to highlight how they’d been treated.
“Women like Savita Halappanvar who never even got to tell her story in relation to her pregnancy.
“Women who’ve been raped and told they had to carry their pregnancy to full term.
The Government will later publish the referendum bill, and a Dail debate will likely begin tomorrow morning following a meeting of the Business Committee which determines the Dail agenda.
Meanwhile, the Referendum Commission will be established by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy.
Minister Harris also announced the Commission will be chaired by Justice Isobel Kennedy.
The Referendum Commission is responsible for the public information campaign which will inform voters on the question they are to be asked during the referendum.
The Dail debate has to get underway by tomorrow at the latest, in order for the May referendum to take place, given that all of the cabinet is away for St. Patrick’s Day, and the Easter Break after that.
“In terms of getting the legislation through the Oireachtas we will require the cooperation of all members of the Oireachtas”, said Mr Harris.
“There’s a responsibility” to enable “the people have their say” and TD’s should “facilitate” a May referendum by making extra time to ensure the debate takes place and passes through the Dail and the Seanad.
Minister Harris said he intends to “campaign vigorously” for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
Ministers Richard Bruton, Josepha Madigan, Regina Doherty and Charlie Flanagan joined the Health Minister at a press conference eat Government Buildings to announce the publication of the bill.
“It is a really important moment for us”, said Minister for Education Richard Bruton.
“I believe strongly that the time is right to make this change”, he said.
“I absolutely will be advocating for a change and a repeal of the Eighth Amendment; it’s not lost on us that we’re celebrating the rights that women have achieved on International Women’s Day”, said Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty.
“But we’re still a long way to go when a woman doesn’t have bodily autonomy”, she said.