The fight to repeal Ireland’s anti-abortion law, the 8th amendment, has been gathering steam, with trade union leaders gathering in Dublin to start a labour movement campaign.
In 1983, the powerful anti-abortion lobby, working with the Catholic Church, forced the government to hold a referendum on abortion, giving foetuses the right to life. The minority government, led by Fine Gael, has convened a Citizens’ Assembly which will discuss the 8th amendment, among a limited range of other issues including referenda and “super referenda”, over six months.
The Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit had won a second reading of a private members’ bill but this was blocked as it was said to interfere with the remit of the Citizens’ Assembly. This means that any decision will be delayed by at least a year.
Meanwhile women are unable to seek legal and safe abortions in Ireland, and are forced to go abroad for them, at a considerable cost. Currently, abortion is illegal in Ireland, including in cases where there is a risk to health, following rape, incest and when there is severe foetal impairment. It includes incidents of child rape.
• Irish citizens and members of the public, including those living abroad, can send submissions to the Citizens’ Assembly by 16 December.