Panel recommends Repeal of the Eighth

Panel recommends Repeal the Eighth
Photo: Sam Boal/

Fianna Fáil TDs and senators in favour of repealing abortion law

Ireland has been advised by an Oireachtas panel of TDs and Senators to repeal the Eighth Amendment and remove references to abortion from Ireland’s Constitution.

A majority of them said they support lifting the ban on abortion without replacing it. Twelve of the 21 politicians called for the issue to be dealt with in legislation alone.

The committee said it supports decriminalising abortion and removing the possible 14- year sentence for illegal termination, and reclassifying abortion as a health issue not a criminal matter.

The committee’s report, due on 20 December means there will almost certainly be an abortion referendum in Fianna Fáil Ireland next year.

Billy Kelleher, the Fianna Fáil spokesman on health, said that abortion law would not change if a new amendment was put into the constitution to replace the existing clause, which puts the lies of the mother and unborn child at the same legal standing.

He said: “To obfuscate on that, I think, would limit our ability to change and legislate afterwards if we try to repeal and replace or amend. So I personally believe that a repeal straight of the Eighth Amendment is the most practical way to progress on this issue,” he said. “To continue to criminalise women is very distasteful to me and is a scar and a blight on how we treat women in this country.”

He said he supported decriminalising abortion not least because women who had taken illegal abortion pills bought online might fear seeking medical help if there was a complication. He also said that there should be no term limits for termination in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, because such anomalies were often diagnosed after 22 weeks.

Fellow Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers said there should be no reference to abortion in the constitution because “we have already created a mess with the current situation”.

She said she had received “vicious, threatening, abusive and personal” messages because of her views on abortion and appealed to fellow TDs to vote in favour of holding a referendum next year to give other people the chance to have a say on the issue.

“I have never had a chance to vote on this,” she said. Fianna Fáil Senator Ned O’Sullivan said abortion is an issue for a woman and her health and that as a man he “felt a fraud” telling women what to do with their own bodies.

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