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Constitution not the place to deal with abortion

6 December 2017

Statement by Jan O'Sullivan TD
Spokesperson on Housing & Local Government, Enterprise & Innovation

At today’s meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, the Labour Party’s Jan O’Sullivan has called for clarity around the proposed referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“As the committee on the Eighth Amendment moves towards the publication of our report on 20th December, I am calling on the Government to give clarity on when the referendum will be held and the roadmap to getting all of the preparatory work done.

“The timeframe is tight and clarity is needed to ensure there is no slippage in drafting the necessary legislation, bringing it through the Houses of the Oireachtas, setting up the Referendum Commission and drafting the proposed laws that would be implemented should the referendum be passed.

“I also believe the question to be put to the people should be clear and that it should simply propose to repeal Article 40.3.3. Any replacement wording would, in my view, perpetuate the ambiguity that has prevailed since 1983.  We have had subsequent referendums, court challenges, both domestically and at EU level and practical difficulties for the medical profession in making crucial decisions about when they can legally intervene if a pregnant woman’s health rapidly deteriorates.

“The Constitution is not the place to deal with the issue of abortion.

“While there are differing views among the members of the committee, I am confident that a majority will be able to agree a report that will be the basis for Government and the Houses of the Oireachtas to take the next steps after the Christmas break.”