Recommendations on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution

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.

Ancillary Recommendations

In feedback over the five meetings the Members indicated that they also wanted to see wider policy issues, as distinct from just legal changes, reflected in the recommendations of the Assembly. On Sunday afternoon, the Members had the opportunity to make ancillary recommendations on the topic. The five ancillary recommendations which the Chair included in the final report are:

    1. Improvements should be made in sexual health and relationship education, including the areas of contraception and consent, in primary and post-primary schools, colleges, youth clubs and other organisations involved in education and interactions with young people.
    2. Improved access to reproductive healthcare services should be available to all women – to include family planning services, contraception, perinatal hospice care and termination of pregnancy if required.
    3. All women should have access to the same standard of obstetrical care, including early scanning and testing. Services should be available to all women throughout the country irrespective of geographic location or socio-economic circumstances.
    4. Improvements should be made to counselling and support facilities for pregnant women both during pregnancy and, if necessary, following a termination of pregnancy, throughout the country.
    5. Further consideration should be given as to who will fund and carry out termination of pregnancy in Ireland.

The decriminalisation of abortion, including the use of the abortion pill; and recognition of and protection of female reproductive rights and autonomy; were also provided in the responses from the Members.