Irish bishops urge voters to keep constitutional ban on abortion

Abortion rights campaigners protest on Feb. 14 outside the Irish parliament in Dublin calling for a repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution
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08 March, 2018

The Supreme Court has ruled that the unborn has no rights under the Constitution other than the right to life in the Eighth amendment.

"I have agreed to that request and Cabinet will meet tomorrow at 11am to discuss the Bill and I think the Business Committee will meet after that meeting to determine how we will hopefully debate the bill tomorrow and possibly on Friday if necessary", he said.

In the anticipated referendum, citizens are due to be asked whether they want to remove the Eighth Amendment, which gives equal right to life to the mother and the unborn, and replace it with wording that would allow politicians to set Ireland's abortion laws in the future.

He said the bill would be introduced into the Dail as soon as possible with the intention of formally establishing a referendum commission in the coming days.

Terminations may only be carried out if doctors decide that a woman's life is at risk because of medical complications, or if she is in danger of killing herself.

The High Court essentially found that the unborn child is entitled to the same constitutional protections as a child.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said the judgment clears the way to advance the referendum.

The Save the Eight campaign however, said the ruling "exposes the frightening reality of the Government's proposals on abortion".

Ireland now has some of the most robust protections for the unborn in the European Union, although most European abortion laws are more restrictive than those in the United States.

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Chief Justice Clarke said: "While it does not alter the outcome of this case, the minister is accordingly not obliged to treat the unborn as having constitutional rights other than the rights contained in Article 40.3.3".

Senator Noone said: "Today the Supreme Court made a landmark decision".

Labour Party TD Jan O'Sullivan welcomed the clarity provided by the ruling.

Bishops in Ireland on Tuesday issued a strong statement in support of the nation's constitutional protection for the unborn, just as the country is set to vote on whether to legalize abortion in the country.

She said: "The decision paves the way for the Oireachtas to debate with clarity the wording of the proposed Government referendum, which is coming before the Dail this week".

The report stated that Constitutional provision prohibiting the termination of pregnancy in Ireland was unfit for goal and in need of reform.

"In 2018, the people of Ireland will have the opportunity to vote Yes, to remove the Eighth Amendment from our constitution, and bring Ireland one step closer to a compassionate place where a woman can access the abortion care and support she needs at home".

"We can now turn our focus to ensuring that we are prepared for a May referendum, I look forward to the parliamentary debates and the national discussion on this issue".

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