On the 25th May 2018 66% of the citizens of the Republic of Ireland voted to repeal the 8th amendment, which guaranteed the right to life of the unborn, and replace this provision with a right to abortion. The Supreme Court ruled last February that the Eighth Amendment was the only article in the Constitution that protected the unborn. Now that it has been repealed, the unborn have absolutely no constitutional rights.
Old article 40.3.3/8th Amendment - ‘The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.’
New article 40.3.3./36th Amendment - Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.
This new article transfers control of regulating abortion from the Constitution to the Oireachtas where politicians have the power to introduce any legislation they want. Sadly, though not surprisingly, the Oireachtas have chosen to introduce one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world. They have named this the ‘Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill’’.
What does the proposed legislation contain?
There are 4 grounds upon which abortion is legal under the abortion Bill.
1. In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy it is legal to have an abortion for any reason, or none at all. There are no restrictions. At 12 weeks of pregnancy, an unborn baby’s heart has been beating for over 2 months. They have all of their body parts and look recognisably human.
2. After this, it is legal to have an abortion up until the baby has reached viability if there is a risk to the life, or of serious harm to the health of the pregnant woman. This section is extremely vague. In England, 97% of all abortions are carried out under a similar provision and 90% of babies with Down’s Syndrome are aborted.
3. A termination is legal if there is a risk to the life or health of a woman in an emergency. What stands out about this section is that where such an emergency arises, an abortion will be legal up until birth.
4. Finally, abortion is legal up until birth if the foetus has a condition likely to lead to its death within the first 28 days of its birth.