Oireachtas Committee Will Consider Free Abortions
At the end of a fractious meeting, the Oireachtas committee considering the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly regarding the 8th Amendment agreed to change its draft guidelines so that all of the Assembly’s proposals would be considered, including whether abortions should be provided free at taxpayers’ expense.
Solidarity/People before Profit TDs Ruth Coppinger and Brid Smith claimed they had succeeded in getting several parts of the committee’s upcoming work changed to better reflect the Assembly’s report. Other changes included the removal of any reference to tests that could be applied to determine whether a woman qualified for an abortion.
“If we hadn’t challenged it we could have been left with a really narrow remit that wouldn’t have been in keeping with the spirit of the Citizens’ Assembly,” Deputy Coppinger said. She said that Fine Gael Deputy Catherine Noone, who is chairing the committee, had sought to focus on “minor cases of rape and fatal foetal anomalies”.
Rejecting the charges as “absurd”, Deputy Noone, said the committee had been formed to consider the Assembly’s recommendations. “It’s absurd to say I’m trying to exclude recommendations of the assembly,” she said.
The committee will examine the difference between risk and serious risk to a woman’s health, as well as the workability of the 2013 abortion legislation.
The committee’s public hearings will begin in September when the 21 members will hear from experts, including constitutional lawyers, but not from advocacy groups.
It must make its final report to the Oireachtas by the end of the year. The Government and the Oireachtas will then decide if there is to be a referendum on abortion next year. While there is broad political consensus that a referendum is likely next year, it is far from clear what the exact question will be.
The Irish Times. July 6. The Times. July 6.