Zappone repeats call for repeal of Eighth Amendment

Minister says women will only be equal when Article 43.3 is removed from Constitution

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone:  “Repealing the Eighth Amendment is about reproductive rights for all women, including those who want to continue with their pregnancies.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone: “Repealing the Eighth Amendment is about reproductive rights for all women, including those who want to continue with their pregnancies.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has said women will not be equal citizens in Ireland until the Eighth Amendment is removed from the Constitution.

Speaking at the Kennedy summer school in Wexford, Ms Zappone stressed the need for “reproductive justice in Ireland”.

The Minister repeated her calls for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which places the life of the unborn on an equal footing to the mother.

The Independent TD insisted women are denied their full reproductive rights in Ireland.

“Choicelessness is not only about the ability to decide whether to remain pregnant, but about the ability to decide what is done to our bodies, including in pregnancy and labour,” she said.

“That is why repealing the Eighth Amendment is about reproductive rights for all women, including those who want to continue with their pregnancies.”

Ms Zappone has been a strong advocate for repealing the amendment and requested its inclusion in the Programme for Partnership Government.

However, she has been criticised by some repeal campaigners for failing to vote with opposition motions to remove Article 43.3 from the Constitution.

Hard conversation

In a speech on Thursday evening, the Minister said politicians have avoided this hard conversation for generations. Because of this, the death and suffering of women who cannot travel are a product of political failure, Ms Zappone added.

“Without repealing the Eighth Amendment and the clear establishment of reproductive rights for all, those who can become pregnant in Ireland will be unequal to those who cannot. That situation simply cannot persist.”

This also required universal and effective sex education and the accessibility of contraception, the Minister added.

The Minister for Children also used the speech to call on childcare workers to join a union and demand better pay and conditions.

Ms Zappone admitted Ireland is nowhere near the international norm on childcare. However, to reach the average across Europe, Ireland would need to invest €1.6 billion this year.

Ms Zappone said this would be a point she would be driving home through the budget negotiations with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.