The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution

The Resolution approving establishment of the Assembly outlines five topics to be considered by the Assembly. The first of these was the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

Meetings

It was initially intended to have four meetings to consider the Eighth Amendment. However at the Private Session during the January meeting, the Assembly Members voted to have an additional weekend to consider the Eighth Amendment

A revised work programme was prepared to reflect these changes and is available to view here

The Assembly considered the Eighth Amendment on the following weekends: 

  1. 26-27 November 2016
  2. 7-8 January 2017
  3. 4-5 February 2017
  4. 4-5 March 2017
  5. 22-23 April 2017

Please click on the date above to view material presented to the Assembly on that weekend. 

Submissions

The Assembly invited members of the public, representative groups and citizen organisations to make a submission on this topic. The submissions process formally opened on 14 October 2016 and closed at 5pm on 16 December 2016.

Please click here to view submissions on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution received from members of the public, advocacy/interest groups and other representative organisations.

Recommendations

In the first ballot, 87% of the members voted that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution should not be retained in full.

In the second ballot, 56% of the Members voted that Article 40.3.3 should be amended or replaced.

In the third ballot, 57% of the Members recommended that Article 40.3.3 be replaced with a Constitutional provision explicitly authorising the Oireachtas to address termination of pregnancy, any rights of the unborn and any rights of the pregnant woman. In other words, it would be a matter for the Oireachtas to decide how to legislate on these issues.  

The Assembly members made recommendations by ballot to the Oireachtas about what should be included in this legislation. Specifically, what reasons, if any, for which termination of pregnancy should be lawful in Ireland, as well as any gestational limits that should apply.

64% of the Members have recommended that the termination of pregnancy without restriction should be lawful. Of that group of Members:

        • 48% have recommended that the termination of pregnancy without restriction should be lawful up to 12 weeks gestation age only.
        • 44 % have recommended that the termination of pregnancy without restriction should be lawful up to 22 weeks’ gestation age only.
        • 8% have recommended that the termination of pregnancy with no restriction to gestational age.

In addition, a majority of Assembly Members recommended by ballot the following reasons, for which termination of pregnancy should be lawful in Ireland:

        • Real and substantial physical risk to the life of the woman (99%)
        • Real and substantial risk to the life of the woman by suicide (95%)
        • Serious risk to the physical health of the woman (93%)
        • Serious risk to the mental health of the woman (90%)
        • Serious risk to the health of the woman (91%)
        • Risk to the physical health of the woman (79%)
        • Risk to the mental health of the woman (78%)
        • Risk to the health of the woman (78%)
        • Pregnancy as result of rape (89%)
        • The unborn child has a foetal abnormality that is likely to result in death before or shortly after birth (89%)
        • The unborn child has a significant foetal abnormality that is not likely to result in death before or shortly after birth (80%)
        • Socio-economic reasons (72%)

For all the above reasons Members made recommendations as to any gestational limits if any which should apply.

Reports

In accordance with the Resolution of the Houses of the Oireachtas approving establishment of the Assembly, the Chair, the Honourable Mary Laffoy, laid her Final Report and Recommendations on this topic before the Houses of the Oireachtas on 29 June 2017. It was also published on the website on the same day and is available to read here

Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution

In accordance with the Resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas approving establishment of the Assembly, the Assembly's final report and recommendations were considered by a Joint Committee of both Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Honourable Mary Laffoy appeared before the Joint Committee on the 20 September 2017. A copy the address given by the Chair is available here (PDF), and a transcript of the Committee meeting is available on the Oireachtas website here.

A letter sent by the Chair to Senator Catherine Noone, Chair of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, clarifying the Assembly's exact recommendation in respect of Reason 13 on Ballot 4B is available to view here. Senator Noone read the clarification into the record at the Committee's public meeting on 11 October 2017.

The Committee met in public session between September - December 2017. Transcripts of the Committee's public proceedings can be found here

The Committee's report was published on the 20 December 2017 and is available to read here

Further information on the work of the Committee can be found on the Houses of the Oireachtas website - www.oireachtas.ie

Video Archive

The Citizens’ Assembly is live streamed and therefore available for the public to view. 

Following each meeting, archive footage will be available to view here