learn > news

Latest News

Legislation before Cabinet an important step on the road to the May referendum

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018

As the Minister for Health brings draft legislation to Government, to hold a referendum to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today welcomed the development as important step on the road to a May referendum.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,

“Today marks an important step on the road to the publication of the 36th Amendment to the Constitution Bill, and a May referendum on the Eighth Amendment. The Eighth Amendment is a barrier to caring and compassionate healthcare, and it needs to be removed from our Constitution so that we can ensure that our reproductive healthcare services are based on best medical practice and the lived experiences of women and girls.”

Orla O’Connor continued,

“Over the past few weeks, there has been much political, legal and technical debate about women’s healthcare needs, and we need to again focus the referendum debate on the voices and experiences of women and girls.”

“It is important to understand what this protected period means in practice for women. A woman who monitors her cycle may take a pregnancy test one or two weeks after she has missed a period. A woman with an irregular menstrual cycle may test later. If a woman is using contraception, as many woman who access abortions are, she will not expect to be pregnant and may not be alerted to the fact that she is pregnant by one missed period. This is a very common situation and shows also that women on contraception who are being careful to avoid unplanned pregnancies sometimes need abortion care. Also, more vulnerable women tend to test later.”

“With this type of legislation, accessing abortion care is up to 12 weeks, but in countries where abortion care is legal and accessible, most abortions happen by nine weeks. In reality the proposal for a protected period of 12 weeks allows a narrow window in which a woman could be expected to know that she is pregnant, and to consider her personal and family circumstances.”

Orla O’Connor concluded,

“When we are discussing proposed legislation that would be enacted if the Eighth Amendment is removed from the Constitution, it is crucial that we understand that these proposals are based on the reality of women’s lives, as well as best medical practice. Where a wanted pregnancy turns into a crisis pregnancy at a later stage in pregnancy, legislation must allow for restricted access to abortion where it is considered medically necessary to protect the mental and physical health of the woman, and where there is a nonviable pregnancy. These “protected treatments” will allow medical professionals to care for women in sometimes extremely difficult and distressing circumstances and support women, couples and families in making these decisions.”

NWCI has developed the Every Woman Healthcare Model – Accessible, affordable healthcare options for all women and girls. More information is available on www.everywoman.nwci.ie


For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications and Social Media Officer, National Women’s Council of Ireland, 085 86 19 087