Friday, February 2, 2018

Ireland to Hold Abortion Referendum by the End of May

New York Times (Jan. 29, 2017): Ireland to Hold Abortion Referendum by the End of May, by Ed O'Loughlin:

The Irish government will hold a referendum at the end of May to consider repealing a constitutional provision that has resulted in an almost complete ban on abortion.  The 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution requires that authorities defend equally "the right to life of the unborn" and the "equal right to life of the mother."  The provision has been interpreted to only allow abortion when a woman's life is in danger.  The referendum will ask voters if they want to keep the 8th Amendment or repeal it allowing the legislature to pass legislation that would allow women access to abortion in a broader set of circumstances. 

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar [] confirmed that the minister of health is preparing legislation to allow unrestricted access to abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy, and later in cases of rape, incest or fatal abnormality. That legislation, which echoes recommendations delivered by an all-party parliamentary committee last month, will be put before Parliament if the country votes to repeal the constitutional ban.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee has criticized Ireland's current abortion laws finding that they discriminate against women and can result in cruel and degrading treatment.  Because of the abortion ban, 3,265 women traveled to the U.K. for abortions in 2016.  The Prime Minister also noted that over 2,000 women and girls take pills to self-induce abortion each year and that the current laws prevent them from obtaining medical supervision or assistance if needed.

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