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Irish Prime Minister announces 2018 referendum on abortion

by | Sep 27, 2017

By Dave Andrusko

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar, the Prime Minister [Taoiseach] of Ireland, announced Tuesday that there will be a referendum next year on Ireland’s abortion laws which are among the most protective in the world.

Varadkar said the vote could be in May or June. However the BBC noted

The date of the referendum depends on an all-party parliamentary committee reporting back by Christmas.

A member of the committee, Anne Rabbitte, said it would make every effort to meet its deadline, but that it may not prove possible.

This could delay the legislation required for a referendum in the middle of next year.

If the dates are confirmed, the vote on the issue would happen just weeks before a planned visit to the country by Pope Francis, who is expected for the World Meeting of Families, from 21-26 August next year.

At the center of the debate will doubtless be the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution. The Amendment, passed in 1983 by a two-thirds majority, reads, “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.”

Ireland’s laws have been under relentless assault, both internally and externally from billionaires such as George Soros, the Irish branch of Amnesty International, and the UN Human Rights Committee which charged that Ireland abortion law violates the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Patricia Lohr of BPAS and Gilda Singh of the Guttmacher Institute both gave evidence to the Citizens' Assembly. Photo: Damien Eagers

Patricia Lohr of BPAS and Gilda Singh of the Guttmacher Institute both gave evidence to the Citizens’ Assembly. Photo: Damien Eagers

But even the New York Times conceded today that while abortion advocates insist Ireland is ripe for abortion on demand, in truth opinion polls show support allowing abortion only in the most difficult cases–“rape or serious risk to the physical or mental health of the mother”– adding “but less than a quarter of people supported changes making it legal under all circumstances,” according to an Irish Times poll.

Abortion advocates, merciless as ever, have tried to use the prohibition against aborting babies with “fatal fetal abnormalities.”  However parents of children with “life-limiting conditions” fought back furiously and a 2016 vote on” The Fatal Fetal Abnormalities Bill” was rejected 95 to 45.

A referendum became inevitable last April when (according to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) “The Citizens’ Assembly, the Irish body charged with examining the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects the equal right to life of the mother and baby, recommended this past weekend that Ireland legislate for abortion, with many saying there should be no restrictions at all.”

SPUC added

The most shocking results from the weekend’s meeting emerged from a series of ballots addressing situations in which abortion might be permitted. The Assembly voted to legalise the killing of unborn babies in 13 separate cases including rape, fetal abnormalities, and socio-economic issues. There was a substantial vote in favor of eliminating any distinction between the physical and mental health of the pregnant woman.

There is no reason to believe the referendum would have language this permissive. But clearly pro-lifers in Ireland have their work cut out for them.

Categories: Abortion Ireland