‘Lawyers for Yes’ focus on Ireland’s many Fatal Foetal Abnormality cases
The 8th Amendment has lead to absolute legal paralysis
This morning Lawyers For Yes held a press event outlining why removing the 8th Amendment is the only legal option to address the issue of fatal foetal anomaly in Ireland.
Speakers Peter Ward SC, Grainne Gilmore BL and Liam Herrick ICCL, answered key legal questions in relation to the government’s proposals and the 8th Amendment.
Co-Director, Ailbhe Smyth said, “We are holding this event with Lawyers for Yes to address some of the key legal questions voters have around the 8th Amendment. It’s very important that voters are given clear, correct information about repealing the 8th and the proposed government legislation before they go to the polls 25th May.
Last weekend on the doorsteps, in our newspapers, on radio and television, people were discussing a harrowing subject – Fatal Foetal Anomaly. Over the weekend, a number of remarkable and courageous women spoke about their experiences travelling to the UK to seek medical care and… the country listened. Now it’s time to hear the expert legal opinions on the 8th Amendment and why we need to repeal it.”
Speaker Peter Ward SC said, “What I would ask people to look at here is what is actually at the heart of this question. We’ve had the 8th Amendment for 35 years. It has resulted in absolute legal paralysis in dealing with crisis pregnancies. There is a legal paralysis in attempting to tackle the health crisis that women face in pregnancy and we have seen in all of the cases that have been thrown up by reason of the presence of the 8th Amendment how unresponsive our Irish law is to the needs of Irish women, by virtue of its presence.
The lawyers who are saying retain the 8th want to keep that provision that prevents any intervention in a situation where a couple get a diagnosis of Fatal Foetal Abnormality. They say keep that provision whereby a pregnant victim of rape or incest is required to take that child to full term. And in respect of the health issue around crisis pregnancies, they are saying keep the threshold at imminent death – that only if there is an imminent risk that that woman will die that you can intervene to terminate that pregnancy.”
Speaker Grainne Gilmore BL said, “Over the last three and a half decades, the 1983 amendment has proven itself to be a failed legal experiment. It has failed in its purpose, it has failed women and it has failed Irish society. It is an outlier amongst Constitutions of the world. The absolutist, inflexible and extreme language of this provision means its application has resulted in cruel outcomes which must surely go beyond what was envisaged by voters in 1983.”
Speaker Liam Herrick said, “ICCL supports the Government’s proposed position is based on a careful consideration of Irish and international experience of how the law engages with issues of abortion, pregnancy and women’s health.”