Monday 23 April 2018

'Unlikely' repeal of 8th amendment will lead to 'abortion on demand', Oireachtas Committee hears

Leinster House (Stock picture)
Leinster House (Stock picture)

Shona Murray

It is “very unlikely” that the repeal of the 8th amendment will lead to ‘abortion on demand’, the Oireachtas Committee on abortion heard today.

The committee was meeting for the second time to hear legal opinion on the implications of repealing the 8th amendment.

TD’s and Senators heard from Dr. David Kenny, Assistant Professor of Law, Trinity College Dublin; Professor Fiona de Londras, Chair of Global Legal Studies, University of Birmingham and Ms. Mary O’Toole S.C.

Mary O’Toole S.C. told the court she didn’t believe the High Court would sanction an abortion on demand scenario in the event of a repeal of the 8th amendment because of the “whole ethos” of the Irish state and the historical opposition to such legislation.

“I think it is very unlikely abortion on demand will be the outcome” in the event that the public votes to repeal the 8th amendment. “I think the whole ethos of Ireland’s approach makes that unlikely.”

Mr. Kenny advised the committee to publish legislation before a vote in order to provide certainty to the electorate as to what they were voting on.

Over the next few months, the committee will hear from a range of experts on the Constitutional issues arising from the recommendations made by the Citizens' Assembly on the repeal of the 8th amendment.

The committee also discussed the difficulties in giving “absolute legal certainty” to the public of implications of the removal of the 8th amendment. If it is left to the Oireachtas to draft and enact legislation, such legislation will always be open to challenge in the courts.

“We must accept that absolute legal certainty is not achievable” Professor Fiona De Londres told the committee.

Claire Daly said that seeking absolute certainty would be akin to seeking “a holy grail.”

Earlier this year the members of the citizens’ assembly voted overwhelmingly to remove the 8th amendment from the constitution and replace it with a provision that confirms any rights related to the unborn, the termination of pregnancy and any rights of the expectant mother be dealt with by the Oireachtas.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News