Repeal the Eighth Amendment


As an ‘angry young man’ in 1983 I was active in the small progressive campaign opposing the introduction of the 8th Amendment into the Constitution. At the time both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael competed with each other to appease the church by restricting the rights of women to contraception and abortion. After the 8th amendment was passed right wing groups went on to oppose the legalisation of divorce and tried to prevent sex education in schools, sale of condoms in chemists, and censoring women’s magazines to ban information about abortion clinics in England.
The consequences of the mistake made in 1983 are still with us today. It has been pointed out that no woman in Ireland of child bearing age has ever voted for or against abortion being available here. I recognise that people have personal and religious reasons for being opposed to pregnancy termination and these views must be respected. But this does not mean that such views can be imposed on the whole of society. I believe that the decision about continuing, or ending, a pregnancy lies with the woman involved, in consultation with her doctor and the people she chooses to confide in. It is entirely wrong that the personal medical and psychological health of a woman should be hauled through the High Court and her future to be decided by barristers. The life and health of a grown adult woman is not equal to that of an ‘unborn’, and it is long past time that this pretence was ended.
A proposal needs to be put to referendum that the Eighth amendment be removed from the Constitution. After that the Dail to debate and vote on a bill deciding when and where abortion facilities are provided. This to be carried out in conjunction with a public information campaign aimed at promoting sexual health and reducing unwanted pregnancies.