The upcoming referendum on whether or not the Eighth Amendment should be repealed, presents a momentous challenge to voters. It is not merely about voting for or against abortion, the simplicity of the question that is being asked of voters has more far reaching consequences. As it stands, Article 40.3:3 protects both the mother and the unborn child:
“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.
“This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state.
“This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state”.
The referendum is going to ask voters to just repeal the Eighth Amendment, and allow politicians to make decisions on whether to allow abortions to take place in Ireland. What happens to the rights of the unborn child? In one swoop, this question wipes out those rights.
The child, unseen and unheard means nothing –at least that is the impression if the repeal goes through.
Rights are important. A woman has rights just as the child does. Rights are what are at the very heart of this referendum campaign. In the next few weeks, Catholic Ireland, whilst being against abortion, and therefore against repealing the Eighth Amendment, will look at some of the questions and arguments being put forward by both sides of the debate, in order for readers to understand what are very complex issues.