Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Repeal of the Eighth Amendment) Bill 2016: First Stage

Tairgim:

Go gceadófar go dtabharfar isteach Bille dá ngairtear Acht chun an Bunreacht a leasú.

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Constitution.

The simple request of the Bill is to seek to hold a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment. I move the Bill on behalf of the Anti-Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit, whose six Deputies have signed their names to the Bill. This is not just adhering to the commitment we made when we stood for election, it is also very timely. Tonight, the issue of fatal foetal abnormalities will be discussed in the Dáil. It seems the Bill will be ruled unconstitutional, so those women will continue to suffer the horrors of leaving the country for medical treatment.

Repeal of the eighth amendment is necessary to cater and legislate for abortion in all cases, according to the Government. The Bill recognises the reality of abortion in this country, whereby thousands of women leave every year or conduct abortions in their own bedrooms with safe medical abortion pills for a variety of reasons. There is widespread recognition in society that banning abortion does nothing to stop the practice. Everybody knows that it will continue, with or without the eighth amendment which just brushes the issue under the carpet. We must, therefore, cater and legislate for it.

Last year when I introduced a similar Bill, the Government stated there was no appetite for it. That was its constant refrain to any proposed change. It is extremely clear that there is a huge demand for change. In the most recent opinion poll 75% of respondents indicated that they wanted a referendum to be held to repeal the eighth amendment. There is, therefore, a democratic deficit in this regard also and it is the one issue in society on which people are clear. The consensus is that we should get rid of the eighth amendment and to then debate and discuss the relevant legislation to be brought before the Dáil. I see some Deputies shaking their heads, but I am afraid that they are behind the curve because it has been shown consistently in opinion polls that there has been a sea change in attitudes on this issue among young people and women. The only people who are behind are those who saw fit three years ago to criminalise women for making these decisions with a 14-year jail sentence. That was very behind the curve. In introducing the Bill, therefore, I appeal to young people, women and pro-choice organisations to use the next 100 days to contact their local Deputies to meet them at their clinics or seek appointments with them to discuss the need to repeal the eighth amendment. We give this notice in order that organisations can do what should be done, which is to ask their local Deputies to represent a clear majority of the people who favour repeal of the eighth amendment.

Is the Bill opposed?

Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.
Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Tairgim: "Go dtógfar an Bille in am Comhaltaí Príobháideacha."

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.
Question put and agreed to.