Saturday 24 March 2018

Explainer: What happens now after Citizens' Assembly vote on abortion?

Chairperson Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, at the Citizens Assembly Picture: Fergal Phillips
Chairperson Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, at the Citizens Assembly Picture: Fergal Phillips

Laura Lynott

The Citizens' Assembly has voted overwhelmingly for abortion rights - so what happens next?

What have the Citizens’ Assembly recommended happen to the abortion law in Ireland?

Overwhelmingly the 87 representatives of the public from across Ireland voted for abortion rights for Irish women as recommendations to the Oireachtas.

The Assembly first voted to change the abortion law - which currently lies under article 40.3.3 of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

They voted to not scrap this article by repealing it but to reform it under law via the Houses of the Oireachtas.

This means that the recommendations the Assembly have made will now be passed on to the Oireachtas and then a referendum will be passed to ask the public what they think should happen next - if abortion should be legalised or not.

If the public vote yes the next move will be for the Oireachtas to draft an abortion bill.


What were the key votes to take place during the Assembly?

A staggering 89pc voted for Irish women to be legally permitted abortions if there is likely to be a foetal abnormality likely to result in death before or after birth.

And 69pc voted there should be no restriction on the gestational age of the foetus in this regard.

80 per cent voted there should be no restriction on termination even if there was no risk of death shortly before or after birth.

One of the most startling votes showed that 72pc of the Assembly feel socioeconomic reasons should allow a woman to gain an abortion.

But 50pc stated a termination in this case needed to take place before 22 weeks.

While 64pc voted that there should be no restriction on women having a termination - opening the door to full abortion rights to Irish women for the first time in history.


When will the recommendations of the Assembly be sent to the Oireachtas?

Assembly Chair Ms Justice Mary Laffoy said she will supply the Oireachtas with the information by June. 


When is it likely that there will be a referendum on abortion?

There is nothing to stop a referendum taking place as soon as possible.  Once an multi-party committee has been established as a result of the Assembly’s recommendations, if they complete their work at a pace, the referendum could take place by or before the Spring of next year.

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