The referendum on the Eighth Amendment is proposing “a wide-ranging right to abortion”, a group of 100 lawyers have said.
The Constitution as it stands respects the right to life of mothers, and “protects the right to life of the unborn only to the extent that such protection is consistent with the right to life of the mother” said the group, which includes two former High Court judges, one of whom, Iarfhlaith O Neill, is a former Chairman of the Referendum Commission, while the other, Aindrias Ó Caoimh, is a former Judge of the European Court of Justice.
Describing the proposal to withdraw the sole existing constitutional right from unborn human beings as “profoundly unjust”, the lawyers’ group noted that the Government intends to follow the repeal of the Eighth Amendment with “far-reaching” legislation.
“The proposed legislation would allow the life of the unborn to be ended for any reason up until 12 weeks, and far beyond that on grounds which have led to abortion on demand in other jurisdictions. In addition, such limitations as may be set in the legislation could be removed at any time without the consent of the People,” they said, continuing: “It is clear, therefore, that what is being proposed is not simply abortion in exceptional cases but a wide-ranging right to abortion.”
Noting that every person was once unborn, the group said that while human capacities can increase and decrease over time, “At all stages, however,born and unborn, we remain the same human being with the same inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights.
“These human rights rest on the foundation-stone of the right to life. Life is the constant which makes the exercise of every other human right possible,” they said.
Save the 8th has praised the initiative, highlighting the importance of Mr O’Neill’s involvement: “When he says, along with 99 of his colleagues, that this bill introduces abortion on the same grounds as led to abortion on demand elsewhere, voters should listen – their words are important, clarifying, and very significant.”
Other members of the group include: Mary Faulkner, Former Dean of the School of Law, King’s Inns, Dublin; Prof. Emeritus Gerard Whyte of the School of Law, Trinity College Dublin; Prof. Gerard Casey, Associate Professor in the School of Philosophy at University College Dublin; former RTÉ presenter Theresa Lowe; and Margaret Cordial, who has worked for the UN High Commission for Human Rights.