The 8th Amendment: Where do YOU really stand on abortion? 7 years ago

The 8th Amendment: Where do YOU really stand on abortion?

The success of the marriage equality referendum opened a big door in Irish law. Not surprisingly, there are fresh calls for further changes – this time to the abortion laws.

To give it it’s constitutional title, The Eighth Amendment is the part of Irish law whereby The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.’

So what does this mean exactly?

Passed over 30 years ago, the amendment acknowledges the right to life of the unborn to be equal to that of its mother’s. It does not, however, restrict women from accessing information on legal abortion services abroad – or from traveling overseas to access these services. Over the years there have been a few high profile cases that have questioned the rigidity of Ireland’s current abortion laws – as in the X case, whereby a 14-year-old victim of statutory rape was forced to go to the UK in order to have an abortion as it was unlawful to have one here. Three years ago, there was the case of Savita Halappannavar who, knowing her baby wouldn’t survive to full term, requested an abortion. Ultimately that request was denied and sadly, both mother and baby died. More recently, there was the case of a pregnant mother with suicidal ideation who, after being denied an abortion, subsequently had to undergo a Caesarean section to end the pregnancy.

So where are you on this debate? Whether you’re pro-life, pro-choice or just not sure – there are a myriad of ‘for’ and ‘against’ reasons why the abortion laws should be changed. Here are a few:

Reasons FOR change to the abortion laws

  • To give women autonomy over her own body, in that they get to choose what’s best for their overall welfare. The church should no longer have a hand in how a woman lives her life.
  • No woman should be denied an abortion if her own life is at risk, whether that be through physical or mental illness.
  • With foetal heart abnormality there is no chance that the baby will survive outside the womb. In this instance, an abortion should be allowed. It’s inhumane to expect a woman to endure nine months of a pregnancy when she knows her baby won’t live.
  • In the case of rape, it’s unfair that a woman should be made to suffer the physical and psychological consequences of having to carry a baby full-term – then to face putting that child up for adoption, with further complications down the road when the child becomes old enough and decides to trace his/her biological parents.

Reasons AGAINST changes to the abortion laws

  • The biggest fear is that if abortion becomes legal in Ireland, the floodgates will open and in the future our attitude to abortion will become as liberal as the UK’s. If that happens, many believe abortion could be used as a means of contraception.
  • There’s unrest in the area of suicide. How can it be proven that someone will ultimately take their own life if the pregnancy isn’t terminated? Or if it’s just a passing ideation? Hormones do play havoc with our bodies during pregnancy – is it the right time to be making life-changing decisions?
  • Studies have shown that a lot of women seek counseling post-abortion, with many regretting the decision to have the termination. This can cause a lifetime of guilt and mourning for a child lost.

There may well be a referendum on this issue in the near future – so make your opinion count. The laws we make today will most likely affect our children in the future.

Grace C Vaughan lives in Meath with her online husband, offline children and smelly menagerie of hairy things.