Eighth Amendment Committee – Minority Report

Fresh Citizens’ Assembly should examine positive alternatives to abortion

Three members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment today called for a fresh Citizens’ Assembly to be convened which would examine how positive alternatives to abortion could be promoted in the context of a retained Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Deputies Peter Fitzpatrick and Mattie McGrath, and Senator Rónán Mullen, today delivered a Minority Report in which they they dissented from the ‘cruel and unjust recommendations’ voted for by the Committee majority and called for the Eighth Amendment to be retained in Bunreacht na hÉireann.

In a statement delivered at the launch of their report, they said,

“We believe that the majority of this Committee failed to check their bias in favour of abortion and that this had an overwhelming effect on the way they selected, and treated, invited speakers and on the cruel and unjust recommendations which they have embraced.”

“We believe that the Eighth Amendment should be retained and this crucial clause which protects human rights should not be put to the vote. We say this not only because the Eighth Amendment has, we believe, saved and will continue to save countless lives, to judge from Ireland’s low abortion rates compared with other countries. We also say it because the Eighth Amendment provides the right context for protecting best health care for women, ensuring medics act ethically and with care for both mother and baby.”

“We are horrified by the cavalier way in which the Committee voted to recommend widespread legalised abortion, partly out of a desire to avoid figuring out how to deal with complex cases.”

“But we don’t support just retaining the Eighth Amendment. We believe it is time for the State to start living and behaving in accordance with the spirit of Article 40.3.3.”

“We think, for example that there should be a new Citizens’ Assembly convened which would explore positive alternatives to abortion and how these alternatives can be better promoted by the State.”

“Much more can be done to step up and equalise, across the country, high quality perinatal and palliative care services to help families who receive the tragic diagnosis that their child may not live long.”

“We would also like to see a greater openness by the State to examining how pregnancy counselling, particularly State-funded pregnancy counselling, can be delivered in a way that is sensitive to the vulnerable position in which women can find themselves. But such counselling should also try sincerely to save lives by not losing sight of the humanity of the baby and by encouraging positive alternatives such as adoption.”

“We believe that this is the only thing that makes sense when our Constitution protects both mothers and unborn babies.”

We hope that, in the light of what has happened with this Committee, there will be a greater awareness of the groupthink that can afflict politicians. One of the tragic realities of this process is how politicians, taking a lead from each other, embraced ever more radical grounds for abortion without ever taking responsibility for the need to hear the other side.”




Minority Report / Joint Assessment is available here:

Joint Assessment by Fitzpatrick, McGrath and Mullen on the Committee of the 8th Amendment