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NWCI calls for a reasoned debate in the lead up to the Eighth Amendment referendum

Published: Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today welcomed An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s announcement of a referendum on the Eighth Amendment in May / June of next year, and called for a reasoned debate in the lead up to the referendum, where citizens can hear the facts, raise their concerns, and listen to women’s voices.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,
“The announcement of a referendum on the Eighth Amendment by An Taoiseach is very welcome. The coming months are crucial to create a reasoned space for debate, where citizens can hear the facts and the voices of women, and women’s experiences of abortion. To date, a lot of the debate around the Eighth Amendment has been typified by fear, cynicism and suspicion; this is no basis for good public healthcare policy. Our aim must be to create a healthcare system where the healthcare needs and life decisions of all women are being provided for.”

Orla O’Connor continued,
“Every pregnancy is different, every decision is personal, and no one makes pregnancy decisions lightly. We must move the conversation away from focussing on simply abortion and restrictions, and instead reflect in public discourse the complexity of difficult and personal decisions a woman may face. We need to create a new understanding of what is meant by ‘balance’. NWCI has been holding conversations all around Ireland, where it is clear that the majority of people want to support women’s decisions in pregnancy, but struggle to find create a space to ask questions that do not fit into the binary media narrative. The Citizens’ Assembly has shown that when people are given the facts and the space to discuss their concerns, they come up with a solution that prioritises women’s health and wellbeing. The time is now to bring this reasoned debate to a national level.”

Orla O’Connor concluded,
“We believe Ireland needs to work toward a comprehensive, integrated public healthcare system that prioritises and provides for all women and girl’s reproductive health needs, including relationship and sexual health; affordable and accessible contraception; comprehensive pregnancy care, including abortion when necessary; menopause transition and post-menopausal care; and reproductive cancers. The Eighth Amendment is a fundamental barrier to achieving this vision. NWCI believes we must remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution. In relation to abortion, we need to introduce legislation that provides for the option of abortion in early pregnancy on request, and in special circumstances thereafter.”

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For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications Officer, 085 8619087.