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01st Jul 2016

Irish Law ‘Adds to the Pain’ of Abortion – Harris

Katie Mythen-Lynch

The first stage of a bill calling for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment has been presented to Dáil Éireann.

Thirty-three years after the issue of abortion was last debated in Ireland, the Thirty-Fifth Amendment to the Constitution (Repeal of the Eighth Amendment Bill) was presented by TD Ruth Coppinger of the Anti Austerity Alliance in partnership with People Before Profit.

So, what does it mean?

Well, before the people of Ireland can vote on the issue of abortion, TDs must decide if the issue of abortion is worthy of a referendum. Now that the first stage of the bill has been put forward, politicians have approximately 100 days to raise support, campaign and lobby before the motion is debated on the floor.

Meanwhile, health minister Simon Harris told the Dáil that while he hopes for a referendum on the issue, he could not accept independent TD Mick Wallace’s separate proposed Bill allowing for abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities because the attorney general had ruled it was unconstitutional.

According to the Irish Independent, a Dáil debate on the subject was fraught with emotion.

Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell was moved to tears as she shared how she and her husband were told their unborn baby had a “profound defect”.

The child, now aged five and recovered, “had almost the entirety of his organs outside his body” said O’Connell. Calling for women to be given the right whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term, the TD said:

“Today, as we sit here, people are receiving a diagnosis that tells them to prepare for a death, and not a birth – and that their misery cannot be relieved in their own country,”

O’Connell has since called a meeting of all Fine Gael TDs and Senators in favour of repealing the eighth amendment.

Minister Harris said his generation’s attitude towards abortion had changed:

“There is an absolutely inescapable truth: Our present law immeasurably adds to the pain of those who make the difficult decision to terminate their pregnancy.”


Repeal Project jumpers (available from  give women the opportunity to wear their rights and showcase their support for the 15 women who are forced to travel abroad daily.