Irish lawyers have said that if the Eighth Amendment is repealed, the proposed Government legislation would allow abortion on request up to six months.
In a statement today a group of almost 200 lawyers, including former judges, said any contrary interpretation of the draft bill has “no rational basis” and that the Government’s proposals will allow abortion in “wide-ranging circumstances”.
After comparing the proposed legislation with British abortion legislation, introduced in 1967, they conclude that both permit abortion on request even when the unborn child is “healthy and close to the point of being able to live outside the womb”.
The lawyers added that a ‘Yes’ vote would remove all constitutional rights from the unborn child up to birth, giving the Oireachtas “unlimited power to legislate for abortion”.
Focusing on the proposed legislation which says abortion can be procured if there is serious harm to the physical or mental health of the women, they said the majority of abortions in Great Britain are carried out on mental health grounds and that ‘mental health’ is not defined in the legislation, adding that ‘serious harm’ is more general and “imprecise” a term than ‘injury’ which is the term used in British legislation.
Barrister Benedict O’Floinn said: “The draft proposals are simple and it does not take a lawyer to see how open-ended the availability of abortion would be. A casual reader will see this immediately.”
The lawyers’ intervention has been welcomed as “monumental” by Save the 8th, with campaign chair Niamh Ui Bhrian saying the public had a clear choice: “they can trust the word of Simon Harris, or they can trust the word of the former chairman of the Referendum Commission and 199 of his colleagues”.