Oireachtas to Establish Committee on Abortion
A special Oireachtas committee is to be established this week to consider possible changes to the constitutional protection of the unborn. The committee will spend several months examining the issue and the recommendations from the Citizens’ Assembly which has been debating the topic since the autumn.
The Assembly is due to make its recommendations to Government and the Oireachtas by the end of June, though it may issue its report before then. It holds its final weekend-long consultation on the issue on April 22-23, where it will decide what recommendations to make.
The special joint Oireachtas committee will then take up the issue and will make its report before the end of the year. The committee may conduct hearings into the matter and seek input from medical and legal experts, as well as examining the position in other countries.
It will then be for the Government, with the approval of the Dáil, to recommend any changes to the Eighth amendment, which as article 40.3.3 of the Constitution prevents the further loosening of Ireland's law on abortion.
Any change to the amendment would require a referendum, which will not take place until the first half of next year at the earliest.
The Government is expected to appoint five members of the new committee, Fianna Fáil will have four representatives and Sinn Féin will have two. There will be one each from Labour, Solidarity-People Before Profit, Independents 4 Change, the Rural Independents group and the Greens-Social Democrats group.
The members are likely to be announced this week. The committee will determine its own terms of reference.
The Irish Times. April 3.