The Pro Life Campaign has said that the Government’s decision on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution is “as bad as anyone could have envisaged: the removal of legal protection from unborn babies and providing for abortion on demand”.
On Monday, the Government announced plans to hold a referendum in late May asking citizens whether they want to retain article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, or to repeal and replace it with an enabling provision that will give legislative responsibility on abortion laws to the Oireachtas.
The decision, which followed a lengthy meeting at Government Buildings, is understood to have been unanimous and was in line with expectations. A referendum bill will be drafted in coming weeks to give force to the decision.
The Government has said that if the referendum proposal is passed, it will then introduce legislation in line with the advice of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, which recommended allowing for abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.
Commenting immediately after the Government’s announcement, Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Dr Ruth Cullen said, “It is a very sad and serious moment for our country. Tonight, the Government brought forward a proposal that for the first time in our history would withdraw basic human rights from a group of vulnerable defenceless individuals instead of strengthening their constitutional protections.”
Dr Cullen added that the Government can’t disguise how its proposal is solely about stripping unborn babies of all meaningful legal protections.
“The right to life is an inalienable right. It’s not something that can be conferred or withheld by the State at its pleasure. The Eighth Amendment acknowledges this basic right to life; it doesn’t claim to be its initiator – merely its protector,” she said.
Dr Cullen said that in the coming weeks, it will become clear that the Government’s proposal will lead to abortion on demand if voted for in the referendum.
“As people come to realise this, I have every confidence they will vote to retain the Eighth Amendment with a renewed commitment to building a more welcoming society for expectant mothers and their unborn babies,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Church’s first ‘Choose Life 2018’ newsletter has been published by Ireland’s bishops to promote the Church’s position on abortion. Issued on Tuesday, the newsletter will be disseminated on a weekly basis and is intended to encourage family discussion on the subject.