Citizens' Assembly supports change in Abortion Law


Abortion is prohibited in Ireland and this was enshrined in our Constitution when the referendum on the Eighth Amendment, which introduced Article 40.3.3, was passed in 1983. Resultantly, laws permitting abortion cannot be made and the courts cannot recognise a right to abortion. There is one limited exception, that being, where the life of the mother is threatened by the continuation of the pregnancy and that threat can only be removed by a termination.

In 2016, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, established a Citizens Assembly of 100 citizens, randomly selected, to consider some of the most important issues facing Ireland’s future. The Assembly was tasked to consider the Eight Amendment, and has spent the past number of months doing so.

At the weekend, the Assembly voted overwhelmingly to recommend that Article 40.3.3. of the Constitution, the Eighth Amendment, not be retained in its current form.

The Assembly rejected the current constitution restrictions of the Eighth Amendment, and supported its replacement with a constitutional amendment which would mandate the Oireachtas to legislate to address termination of pregnancy, any rights of the unborn, and any rights of the pregnant woman.

13 grounds for legal termination of a pregnancy have been approved by the Assembly to include:

  • A real and substantial physical risk to the life of the woman
  • A real and substantial risk to the life of the woman by suicide
  • A serious risk to the physical health of the woman
  • A serious risk to the mental health of the woman
  • A serious risk to the health of the woman
  • A risk to the physical health of the woman
  • A risk to the mental health of the woman
  • A risk to the health of the woman
  • A pregnancy as result of rape
  • The unborn child has a foetal abnormality that is likely to result in death before or shortly after birth
  • Socio-economic reasons
  • The unborn child has a significant foetal abnormality that is not likely to result in death before or shortly after birth
  • No restriction as to reasons

The vote now paves the way for a referendum on the amendment of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution and the liberalisation of Ireland’s abortion laws.

Chairperson of the Citizens Assembly, Ms Justice Laffoy will shortly deliver the Assembly’s Report to the Joint Oireachtas Committee who will in turn report to the Dáil and the Seanad.

24th April 2017


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