Oireachtas committee votes to repeal the Eighth Amendment rather than replace

Jean Housen Leinster House Irish Parliament building in Dublin

Amnesty International has today welcomed the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth amendment in Republic of Ireland vote to recommending the repeal of the Eighth amendment and to allow abortion on request in the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy and the decriminalisation of abortion.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment has voted to recommend the removal of the Amendment in full from the Constitution Ireland, and the introduction of legislation to allow for access to abortion services in Ireland.

The cross-party committee of TDs and senators voted 12-5 in favour of legalising unrestricted abortions up to 12 weeks, with four members abstaining.

"At our meeting, the Committee will complete its examination of the report and recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly through voting process and we will then prepare our draft report in accordance with the Committee's terms of reference".

"It is a clear recognition of the complexity of decisions in pregnancy and that these decisions are private and personal, never political".

The Pro Life campaign has branded the committee's findings "appalling".

"Anyone who tries to suggest that today's vote is not for abortion on demand is telling a lie".

"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."

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The committee held a series of votes on recommendations from the Citizens' Assembly and associated issues.

This morning, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he wanted a referendum next May, meaning that a referendum bill would need to pass in the Dáil in January, after its members return from holidays on January 16th.

Terminations are only allowed when the life of the mother is at risk and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.

TDs and senators also voted in favour of decriminalising abortion for women who undergo the procedure.

"We were also pleased to see a recommendation for access to abortion without gestational limits in cases of fatal foetal abnormality".

Sinn Fein's two members on the committee abstained on this issue. Fourteen members voted in favour of the motion, with six against and one abstention from the Chairperson of the committee, Senator Catherine Noonan.

Ms Noone said she felt "so strongly" she would back the proposal.

The Department of Health is already working on legislation to reform the strict limitations on abortion in anticipation of the committee's votes and report.

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