Press Statement: LABOUR WOMEN LAUNCH GENERAL SCHEME OF REPEAL THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT BILL 2015

26 November 2015

Launch of the Labour Women Repeal the 8th Amendment
With Consultant Obstetrician Dr Peter Boylan, former Supreme Court Judge Catherine McGuinness, former Senator Dr Mary Henry, and Labour Women Chair Sinead Aherne at the launch of the Labour Women 'Heads and General Scheme of Repeal 8th Amendment Bill 2015'.

LABOUR WOMEN LAUNCH GENERAL SCHEME OF REPEAL THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT BILL 2015

Today (25 November), Labour Women launched the general scheme of the Repeal the Eighth Amendment Bill 2015 at 11am in Buswell’s Hotel.

Labour Women have launched a framework for the Scheme of the Bill which would be introduced by the Labour Party into the Oireachtas if Article 40.3.3 (the Eighth Amendment) of the Constitution were repealed by way of Referendum. This Bill would provide for the conditions under which abortion may be carried out legally in Ireland.
The event was chaired by former Senator and medical doctor, Mary Henry.
Speakers at the launch were: former Supreme Court Judge Catherine McGuinness; Dr Peter Boylan, Consultant Obstetrician; Senator Ivana Bacik and Sinead Ahern, Chairperson of Labour Women.
The publication of this scheme follows on from the work of the Labour Women Repeal the Eighth Amendment Commission. The general scheme outlines guiding principles for the carrying out of abortions in Ireland; the decriminalisation of abortion; and four medically certified grounds for access to legal abortion: namely risk to life, risk to health; rape; and fatal foetal abnormality.
Senator Ivana Back said today:
‘‘The Labour Party is the party of social change and we are including a commitment in our manifesto to hold a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment if returned to Government. Labour Women have produced this framework for the scheme of a Bill which would be introduced by the Labour Party if the Eighth Amendment is repealed by way of referendum.
‘‘It was Labour which ensured that marriage equality was included in the programme for Government, and we delivered on our promise. It was Labour which pushed for a referendum on divorce in 1995 and campaigned for its passage. Labour have a track record of standing up for women in Ireland; and if we are returned to Government again in 2016, it will be Labour which will stand up for women’s rights by ensuring that a referendum is called on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment. That is why we are publishing a framework bill like this in advance, in order to seek to achieve consensus around the format of legislation which would take effect once the Eighth Amendment is repealed.’’
Sinead Ahern, Chairperson of Labour Women, said:
‘‘There are distinct choices in the upcoming General Election. Public opinion is changing and we know that the majority of voters want to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Labour are the only party who have unequivocally declared our support for holding a referendum on this issue. We are already thinking ahead as to what framework of legislation will need to be put in place if Article 40.3.3 is repealed. This general scheme would allow for abortion to be carried out legally in Ireland.
On average 12 women per day travel to the UK for termination services. Abortion is already a reality for women in Ireland and we cannot continue to export this issue. Nobody under the age of 50 has had a chance to vote on whether the Eighth Amendment should be in our constitution – it’s time we let the people have their say.’’
Notes to the Editor:
· Copies of the scheme and information packs on Labour Women’s work on this issue were available at the launch
· The text of the Repeal the Eighth Amendment Bill is available at https://www.labour.ie/news/blog/2015/11/25/labour-women-launch-heads-of-their-repeal-the-eighth/
· Labour Women’s Repeal the Eighth Amendment Commission Report which was passed at the Labour Party Conference can be found here:http://www.labour.ie/download/pdf/labour_women_8th_amendment_report_copy.pdf
· The following Oireachtas members were members of the Labour Women Commission:
· Sen Ivana Bacik (rapporteur) and Deputies Ciara Conway, Anne Ferris, Aodhan O Riordain and Emmet Stagg.