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Abortion referendum needed: ex-minister

FORMER justice minister Nora Owen says she believes there will be another abortion referendum and that the amendment to the Constitution from 30 years ago needs to removed.

In the wake of the latest abortion controversy centring on an asylum seeker who sought an abortion and subsequently had her baby delivered by Caesarean section, calls are again being made to hold a new referendum.

Back in 1983, the eighth amendment acknowledged the right to life of the unborn, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother.

Ms Owen said it was "probably inexorable" there will be another referendum.

"And I think we do need it. Look, if I had my way, I'd get rid of the 1983 amendment - the eighth - out of the Constitution.

"It should never have gone in and it should never have been put forward to people. People voted for it in good faith, thinking it was going to stop what they thought was a big onslaught of abortion clinics around Ireland. It was never going to do such a thing at all.

"And it has now caused this. Look, here we are in 2014 still suffering from the wording of that referendum, even though at the time Garret FitzGerald tried to get through that the wording was wrong and faulty, but nobody had the courage to call a stop," she added.

But Ms Owen cautioned she also wanted to hear the full facts surrounding the case before the conclusions. The former Fine Gael TD said there was "a lot of holes in this story".

"I want to see what the HSE report comes up with because I think there's stuff in this story that we don't know about and we don't really know the relevance to the Protection of Life in Pregnancy legislation. But I can't understand why it is taking so long.

"There's about four or five people involved in this. Couldn't they have been all called in this week," she said.

"We have to wait now until the middle of September for some kind of a report and that is nonsense. It is being done by the HSE, which was involved with this woman right from the beginning," she said.

Ms Owen said it raises questions about the operation of the asylum seeker system.