Ireland should repeal abortion ban, special committee says

An Irish legislative committee on Wednesday recommended amending the Irish constitution to repeal the clause banning abortion, in its final report.

“The current regime for the termination of pregnancy in Ireland is unfit for purpose and that constitutional reform is necessary,” the report says.

It follows a vote in the committee last week to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which recognizes the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child.

The committee said terminating a pregnancy should be legal where the physical or mental health of the woman is at risk. It also recommended legalizing terminations of pregnancy up to 12 weeks with no restrictions.

“The key change we want to make is to modernize health care by placing the woman at the centre of it,” wrote Senator Catherine Noone, chairperson of the joint committee, in today’s report. Stating that “every situation is unique,” she said, “the evidence has shown that medical practitioners do not feel supported by the law in providing necessary care for the women of Ireland.”

Ireland will hold a referendum on its abortion laws in May or June. “Politicians do not have ownership over this issue,” Noone told a press conference today.

“Women have felt the need to look into different options — travel and more recently the availability of illegal abortion pills has come into focus and we cannot continue to ignore this,” she said in the report.

In October, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution agreed in principle to change the article about abortion in the constitution. The committee was set up by the Dáil and Seanad, the two houses of Irish legislature.

“After many years of public and political debate on the issue, the people will have their say,” the new report says. “Those under 52 years of age in this country have never had the opportunity to have a say on this matter.”

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