The Government is currently convening a Citizens' Assembly to discuss The 8th Amendment to the Irish constitution.
Their conclusions will form the basis of a number of reports and recommendations that will be submitted to the Houses of the Oireachtas for further debate by our elected representatives.
The Citizens' Assembly are giving the general public an opportunity for their voices to be heard through the Call For Evidence.
THIS PROCESS ALLOWS ALL PEOPLE IN IRELAND (WITH OR WITHOUT A VOTE) AND IRISH DIASPORA TO HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD. The citizens' assembly specifically calls for submissions from those living overseas to have an input into the process.
WE ENCOURAGE ALL CONCERNED PARTIES AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC (WHETHER YOU HAVE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF AN ABORTION OR NOT) TO MAKE A SUBMISSION ONLINE; SUBMISSIONS CAN BE LONG OR SHORT.
PLEASE NOTE THAT SUBMISSIONS WILL BE PUBLISHED ONLINE, FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK TO SOME FAQS.
The deadline for submissions is 16th December 2016.
Abortion in Ireland
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act was passed in 2013, allowing for abortion only if there is an imminent and substantial risk to a woman’s life, including suicide. Since this Act was passed, a woman in Ireland has been forced to give birth despite being suicidal and requesting a termination. The Irish College of GPs told the Citizens' Assembly that the provisions of the Act are either ignored or are found to be “cumbersome, stressful and difficult” by GPs, pregnant women and their partners.
Ireland has the one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the European Union. Malta , where abortion is banned in all circumstances, is the only member state where abortion laws are more restrictive.
A woman may not procure an abortion in Ireland if she is pregnant due to rape. The latest national statistics from Rape Crisis Centres show that approx 197 women and girls who attended their centres in 2013 were pregnant as a result of rape. 25% of these survivors went on to terminate the pregnancy.
A woman may not procure an abortion if she is carrying a foetus that will not survive outside of the womb. Former Minister for Health and current Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has admitted that the 8th Amendment forces women to carry to term pregnancies that have “no chance of survival for long outside the womb, if at all.” In 2014, 140 Irish women traveled to the UK to have abortions due to congenital conditions.
In 2015, on average over 9 women travelled from Ireland to Britain every day for an abortion. In 2014, 1017 abortion pills were seized by Irish Customs (more than double the amount seized in 2013). Any woman or girl who procures an abortion, or anyone who assists a woman to procure an abortion in Ireland, outside the confines of the current legislation, can be criminalised and imprisoned for up to 14 years.
The 8th Amendment has wider implications for women’s healthcare in Ireland, beyond the issue of access to abortion services. The National Consent Policy of the HSE (Health Service Executive) states that informed decisions of non-pregnant adults must be respected but it restricts informed consent and informed refusal of treatment for pregnant women. “This allows the HSE to apply for injunctions from the High Court which compel pregnant women to receive treatment where they do not consent to proposed treatment plans, whether these are in line with international best practice or not“. The chilling impact of this was illustrated again in November 2016 when the HSE sought an order from the High Court to try to force a pregnant woman to have a caesarean section against her will.
Form more information, please see Amnesty International's report into the Impact of Ireland's Abortion Laws here
- If you would like to make an individual submission to the Citizens' Assembly and would like some help with writing it, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject 'Citizens' Assembly'.
- The Abortion Rights Campaign in Ireland are looking for stories from women who have had to travel abroad to access an abortion, if you would like to submit a story (anonymously if wanted) please email, find more information here and email email@example.com.
- A submission will be made from the Repeal the 8th London group, sign up to our mailing list if you'd like to add your name.