The Oireachtas committee on abortion has voted against fully retaining the Eighth Amendment in the Constitution.

 

The committee held their first vote last night after weeks of hearings. They had to decide if Article 40.3.3 should be retained in full.

 

Sinn Féin made the proposal, which was supported by Fianna Fáil.

 

15 members of the committee voted yes; three voted no; and two Fianna Fáil members, James Browne and Anne Rabbitte, refrained from voting.

 

The next step for the Oireachtas committee is to decide on what option will be put to the people next year, during the referendum.

 

It is understood that there are six diverse options that they are considering. They range from bringing in a brand-new abortion law, or making changes to the current constitution, such as legalising abortion if a woman was raped.

 

 

The members believe this decision is a step in the right direction. Medical and legal experts addressed the committee earlier in the week. They informed the committee about the grave dangers the Eighth Amendment has caused.

 

Convenor of the committee, Ailbhe Smyth, said, "It is time to remove from our Constitution a clause that has caused so much suffering and misery."

 

Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan said, "We haven't decided to change the Constitution, we have decided to refer to the people a decision that they must make and they alone must make.”

 

He added, “I am not in favour of abortion, but I do realise that there are certain things that have to be done from time to time to address the issues that have become contentious in our society."

 

 

Earlier in the meeting, Doctor Peter Boylan spoke to the committee, “[The Eighth Amendment] enshrines a woman's right to commit an act which is a criminal offence in her own country, as long as it is committed outside the State. By any yardstick, that is a bizarre situation."

 

He believes that the current constitutional laws on abortion are ‘unworkable’.

 

Professor Sabaratnam Arulkumeran also addressed the committee, stating that abortion was life-saving when it comes to certain health conditions.

 

He continued, "There are minimal ill-effects to health with a well-informed, safe abortion.”

 

He also informed the committee that the Irish public do not want to see women imprisoned if they have an abortion, “I think you would find this is not what the public wants, neither in law nor in practice.”

 

Earlier this month, Leo Varadkar announced that a standalone referendum on the Eighth Amendment will be held in the May or June of 2018.

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