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The Oireachtas Committee must put women at the centre of their discussions on the Eighth Amendment

Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ahead of the first meeting of the Special Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today called on the Committee to put women at the centre of their discussions, and for Minister Simon Harris to name a date for the referendum in spring 2018.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,

“After years of campaigning on the issue of abortion, it is very positive to see the Oireachtas Committee meet for the first time today. It is also very welcome that Minister Simon Harris has committed to dealing ‘definitively’ with the issue. In the past two weeks alone, there have been numerous cases which have highlighted just how unworkable Ireland’s abortion laws are, not to mention another damning UN ruling on the cruel and inhuman impact of Ireland’s abortion laws on women. As the Committee meets, it is critical that the Government now commit to a timeframe for the Committee to report, and to announce a date for when the referendum will be held.”

“Naming a date is important now, as it will set out a finite time for the issue of women’s reproductive health to be resolved. Setting out a definite schedule will also encourage public discussion to focus on the key issues that are at stake. The Citizens Assembly showed that when people are given the space and time to consider the full implications of Ireland’s strict abortion laws, that they come up with a solution that puts women’s health and wellbeing at the centre.”

Orla O’Connor concluded,

“Women’s lives are complex, and decisions around abortion can be complex. We know that the Constitution is not the place to deal with the complexities of women’s lives and decisions, nor with the provision of comprehensive, quality healthcare. The Oireachtas Committee has a strong mandate from the Citizens’ Assembly to place women’s health and wellbeing at the centre of their decisions and recommend a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment. “


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