"A dark day for our republic": Irish Government confirms abortion referendum
30 January 2018
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (centre) flanked by Children's Minister Katherine Zappone, and Health Minister Simon Harris, announces the abortion referendum.
An extreme proposal that will lead to abortion on demand.
Following a Cabinet meeting, the Irish Government last night officially announced a referendum on abortion.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar used his first day in office to reveal his intention to bring forward a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment, which upholds the equal right to life of mother and unborn child. Yesterday, after months of debate and speculation, the details were confirmed.
Voting to strip babies of the right to life
"This evening, the Cabinet gave formal approval to the holding of a referendum on abortion which will be held in late May or early June this year. We will know the exact date following a debate and vote in the Dáil and Seanad, and I am confident this timeline can be met," Mr Varadkar said. "The Minister for Health has been given approval to prepare a Referendum Bill to amend the Constitution. It will be the 36th amendment to the Constitution."
The exact wording of the referendum question was not given, but the vote will be on repealing the Eighth Amendment and replacing it with a clause allowing the Oireachtas (houses of parliament) to legislate for abortion.
The Taoiseach also insisted that the vote would be on the amendment, not the abortion legislation that would be introduced. However, the Health Minister, Simon Harris, is preparing draft legislation, based on the conclusions of the Oireachtas Committee that examined the issue. The Committee recommended abortion on demand up until 12 weeks gestation, and abortion up to birth when a mother’s life, physical health and mental health is at risk, or if the baby is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition.
Mr Varadkar made it clear that he would be campaigning for repeal, and that he is in favour of the recommendations allowing abortion up to the 12-week time period, stating that in reality Ireland "already has abortion, but it is unsafe." The 12 week recommendation has proved controversial, with many politicians, including the Tanaiste (Deputy PM), Simon Coveny saying they will not support it.
A dark day
The Save the 8th Campaign last night slammed the Taoiseach and the Health Minister, both of whom have called themselves pro-life in the past. Spokeswoman Niamh Ui Bhrian said: "This is an extreme proposal that places the rights of the unborn in the hands of fickle and poll-driven politicians...If this proposal is passed, we will never be given a say over the rights of the unborn again, because politicians will have nobody to answer to except an avowedly pro-abortion media.
When the public come to see this proposal for what it is, it will be rejected. But that it is even being proposed is a dark day for our republic."
When voters know the truth
Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro-Life Campaign agreed that "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. They can’t disguise the fact that what’s being proposed is solely about stripping unborn babies of all meaningful legal protections."
However, she said, "In the coming weeks, it will become clear that the Government’s proposal would 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."
Today, a new group, Disability Voices for Life, joined the Save the 8th Campaign at a press conference in Dublin. A billboard campaign, featuring Joseph Cronin, a little boy with Down's syndrome, and the statistic that 90% of babies in Britain with the condition are aborted, is also beginning nationwide today. Health Minister Simon Harris said it is "offensive" to suggest that women would seek abortion because of their child's disability.
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