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Amnesty welcomes Bill proposing repeal of the 8th amendment

8th May 2015, 15:21:52 UTC

Amnesty International Ireland has welcomed today’s introduction of a Private Member’s Bill by TD Ruth Coppinger calling for a referendum to repeal Article 40.3.3 (the 8th amendment) of the Constitution, which confers an right to life on ‘the unborn’ equal with that of a pregnant woman or girl.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “This Bill provides a welcome opportunity for a fresh political debate on this important and urgent women’s rights issue. It also provides the Government with an opportunity to finally step up to the plate and commit to respecting woman and girls’ human rights on abortion. Ireland was emphatically told by the UN Human Rights Committee last year that the 8th amendment is no excuse for human rights violations. The Constitution must finally be brought into line with human rights standards. “Ireland’s abortion laws are gravely out of step with its human rights obligations. Ireland is violating woman and girls’ human rights by denying them access to abortion even in the minimum circumstances outlined in international human rights law. In re-criminalising abortion in all cases other than when they might die, with a potential 14 year prison sentence, this Government has perpetrated a further abuse against women and girls. That pregnant women or girls who have been raped, whose health is in jeopardy from their pregnancies, or who receive a diagnosis of fatal foetal impairment and wish to terminate, must travel abroad for abortions is appalling. At the root of these violations is Article 40.3.3 – the 8th amendment – which successive governments have dismally failed to tackle.

“We also call on all political parties to bring their positions into human rights compliance. In March saw The Labour Party vote for repealing the 8th amendment of the Constitution, and committing to adopting abortion legislation that is in line with human rights standards. We also saw Sinn Féin vote to support the repeal of the 8th amendment. We earnestly hope other political parties follow suit.”