Amnesty International Ireland welcomes cabinet decision to hold referendum on eighth amendment

Amnesty International has welcomed the government’s decision at today’s Cabinet meeting to schedule a referendum on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. The Cabinet decided wording that effectively repeals the Eighth Amendment. It adopted the Attorney General’s recommendation that an an enabling clause be inserted to provide greater legal certainty for the Oireachtas to legislate for termination of pregnancy. It was agreed that the Minister for Health will prepare legislation in line with the Joint Oireachtas Committee’s recommendations on abortion access, which includes a 12-week ‘on request’ period for abortion access.

“We are heartened at today’s government backing for legislation framed around a 12-week ‘on request’ model for abortion access, with later gestational limits in specific circumstances. This is a further sign of real political will to put women’s and girls’ bodily autonomy firmly at the centre of abortion law reform. We further welcome the Taoiseach’s personal endorsement of this  legislative model as the best way to ensure effective access to this healthcare.

”We welcome the government’s decision to schedule a referendum in May this year. We are on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use our voices and votes to stand up for the human rights and equality of women and girls. We are a different country from the one that voted for the Eighth Amendment back in 1983. For many of us, it will be our first opportunity to have our say on this important issue, and to build a society whose laws reflect our values of care, compassion and respect. We can make a clear statement about the kind of society we want to be. An Ireland is in sight where women have control of their own reproductive lives.

“It is vital that people are provided with the information they need to make an informed choice in the forthcoming referendum. We saw what happened in the Joint Oireachtas Committee and the Citizens’ Assembly when expert evidence and reason won over disinformation and ideology. When people have the facts, putting women’s health and autonomy at the centre of abortion law is the logical and compassionate response,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland.