Assembly votes in favour of change to abortion law

A strong majority within the Citizen's Assembly has voted in favour of changing the country's abortion laws.

. Anti-abortion supporters want no further changes to the law.

There will now be a third ballot presented to the assembly to distinguish how the article should be replaced or amended.

They must now decide if the Eighth Amendment should be repealed or replaced.

It remains to be seen how willing the Oireachtas will be to grant such a referendum, considering the unwillingness shown so far by many politicians to debate the issue.

The assembly will vote on a number of options for when abortion could be legal, including where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the woman, real and substantial risk to the life of a woman through suicide - both of which are now legal in Ireland - as well as where there is a risk to the health, or to the mental health of the mother, where pregnancy is the result of rape, and where the unborn has a fatal foetal abnormality, among others.

In 2013, Amanda Mellet became the first of three Irish women to formally ask the United Nations to denounce the prohibition on abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities as "cruel and inhumane".

In Ireland, since 2014, a pregnancy can be terminated under the Protection Of Life During Pregnancy Act if there is a risk to a woman's life, including from suicide.

"However, we are heartened that 87 per cent of members did vote for some form of constitutional change - proving the majority believe the Eighth is not fit for objective".

"It remains to be seen what final recommendations will come from this process". If they had voted to keep the existing rules the voting would have ceased here.

But there are growing campaigns for women to be allowed access to abortion if their unborn child is diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality or in cases of rape and incest.

Colm O'Gorman, Director of Amnesty In Ireland, tweeted that he was "gravely concerned last session has introduced and inflated uncertainty [regarding the] repeal option at this stage before critical vote".

Of the 91 eligible voters in the group of randomly selected citizens, led by Supreme Court Justice Mary Laffoy, 87 percent voted Article 40.3.3 regarding abortion rights "should not be retained in full".

  • Leroy Wright