The Citizens’ Assembly votes on abortion today.
THE CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY’S stance on whether the Eighth Amendment should be repealed will be revealed at about 2.30 pm this afternoon.
That vote will be the second taken by the 95 assembly members but will only occur if they first decide that the current legal situation should be changed.
Up to four votes will be taken over the next two days depending on the decisions taken by the assembly members.
Firstly, the members will vote on whether the Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion should remain. They will be given two options in this case.
The first question put to them is:
Do you think Article 40.3.3 should be retained in full or not retained in full?
- Option 1 – Article 40.3.3 should be retained in full
- Option 2 – Article 40.3.3 should not be retained in full
If a majority of members select Option 1 then that will be the recommendation delivered to the Oireachtas.
Article 40.3.3 of the constitution was effected in 1983 after a referendum and acknowledges the right to life of the unborn, equating it with the mother’s right to life.
If the majority of members select Option 2 in the first vote, a second vote will be held about two hours later. This vote will focus on what kind of change should be made.
The question put to them has three options and the wording is:
Do you think Article 40.3.3 should be repealed (i.e. deleted and not replaced) or replaced or amended?
- Option 1 – Article 40.3.3 should be repealed (i.e. deleted and not replaced)
- Option 2 – Article 40.3.3 should be replaced and amended
- Prefer not to state an opinion.
Before the members vote in Ballot 2 there will be an explanation of the wording of the ballot and a roundtable discussion on the draft wording of the question.
The wording of the ballots may be changed ahead of a vote if it is deemed necessary.
There will also be the potential for members to put questions to Chairperson Justice Mary Laffoy and an expert advisory group. The advisory group is made up of legal and medical experts.
The results of that Ballot 2 are to be announced at about 2.30pm this afternoon.
Depending on the results of that ballot, a number of other votes will be put to members.
For example, if members favour repealing the Eighth Amendment they will be asked to provide recommendations to the Oireachtas about the reasons, if any, for which abortion should be legal in Ireland.
If members instead recommend that the Eighth Amendment should be repealed or amended, a number of different questions put to them will determine to what extent they feel this change should be made by the Oireachtas or within the constitution.
Depending on the results of previous ballots, the above vote may be taken later today.
Members will be given options that allow them express a view as to whether they feel abortion should be legal in certain circumstances.
The report from Laffoy to the Oireachtas will be based on the results of the voting as well as the ballots themselves and any other recommendations assembly members have themselves made.
That report is due to be delivered to the Oireachtas before the end of June and a committee is being established to examine its recommendations.
The Citizens’ Assembly continues this afternoon and tomorrow and proceedings can be streamed on its website.