Speaking after the Dáil passed a motion to establish the Constitutional Convention this week, Choice Ireland Spokesperson Stephanie Lord, called on the Convention to examine the issue of Article 40.3.3° of the Constitution which legally prohibits abortion in Ireland, subject to the terms of the X Case.
Stephanie Lord said;
“While Choice Ireland welcomes the fact the Constitutional Convention will examine issues such as amending the clause on the role of women in the home and encouraging greater participation of women in public life, it is unfortunate that the Government did not take the opportunity to ask the Constitutional Convention to examine all aspects of the Constitution, including the issue of women’s reproductive rights.
“The European Court of Human Rights made it clear in the judgment in the ABC case that the State must legislate for abortion in cases where it is legal, that is where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of a woman. However, there is a constitutional bar on going further than this. At least 4,500 Irish women are having abortions in British clinics every year. More are accessing the abortion pill online because they either can’t travel or do not have the means to travel overseas when they have an unwanted pregnancy. YouGov research conducted in 2010 showed almost 80% of people believe that abortion should be allowed if there is a risk to a woman’s health or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, with almost two-thirds of people agreeing that abortion should be allowed in cases of profound foetal abnormality.
“Clearly, the Constitutional provision preventing abortion in those circumstances is not relevant for people. Women are still travelling. The Government missed an opportunity by not asking the Convention to specifically look at this issue, however Choice Ireland are hopeful that the Convention can look at this issue within the context of reviewing the “women’s role in the home” clause, and make recommendations on the issue to the Government in their Reports.
“Choice Ireland is calling for free, safe and legal abortion available on demand and we would like to see women’s reproductive rights protected in the Constitution, rather than curtailed as they currently are.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1) The Constitutional Convention will be established by the Government as a forum to examine and make recommendations on aspects of the Constitution in need of change. It will be a cross-party group, with members of the public included.
2 Article 40.3.3° of the Constitution contains the following wording; “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. This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state. This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state.
3) The 2010 YouGov Poll showed more than three quarters of respondents (79%) agreed that termination of pregnancy should be permitted if the woman’s health is at risk; Nearly eight out of 10 respondents (78%) agreed that termination of pregnancy should be permitted if the pregnancy is the result of sexual abuse / rape or incest; Just under two thirds of respondents (62%) agreed that termination of pregnancy should be permitted if there is evidence of a profound foetal abnormality; Over four out of 10 respondents (41%) agreed that termination of pregnancy should be permitted if the woman believes it is in her and / or her family’s best interest; Only three per cent of respondents felt that abortion in Ireland is not acceptable under any circumstances.