Ireland Reconsiders Its Constitutional Ban on Abortion

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Source: The New York Times

By

DUBLIN — An assembly of Irish citizens convened by Parliament is considering changes to one of the most divisive policies in the country: the near-total ban on abortions, which has been enshrined in Ireland’s Constitution since 1983.

The group, a 100-member Citizens’ Assembly led by Mary Laffoy, a Supreme Court judge, does not have the power to change the law. But its mandate from Parliament — to examine the full range of medical, legal and ethical issues surrounding abortion — suggests a willingness to revisit the ban, one of the most stringent in the Western world.

Over the last three months, the assembly has received more than 13,500 comments from the public — more than 1,000 of which have been published online so far. It pored over these submissions at the Grand Hotel Malahide over the weekend, along with testimony from experts, and is scheduled to issue a report later this year.

Abortion was already illegal in Ireland before 1983, but the Eighth Amendment gave “the right to life of the unborn” equal status to “the right to life of the mother” under the Constitution. The amendment was enacted through a voter referendum, and can be altered — or abandoned — only via another referendum.

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