Women’s council to campaign for repeal of Eighth Amendment

NWCI says the issue ‘must be top of our feminist agenda’ in new strategic plan

National Women’s Council of Ireland director Orla O’Connor. The council is to campaign for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

National Women’s Council of Ireland director Orla O’Connor. The council is to campaign for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) is to campaign for greater access to reproductive rights and a repeal of the Eighth Amendment under a strategic plan published today.

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald, who was was chairwoman of the the organisation’s predecessor – the Council for the Status of Women – from 1988 to 1992, will launch the four-year plan.

A commitment to work to repeal the amendment became council policy seven years ago and the plan states it “must be top of our feminist agenda”.

The Eighth Amendment reads: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother.”

Women in Ireland should have “access to a wide range of reproductive services, including abortion”, NWCI director Orla O’Connor said, arguing that this was not possible while the amendment remained in place. “We need legislation to provide abortion services as part of the healthcare system,” she said.

Ms O’Connor added that the council’s strategic plan, ‘Driving Women’s Equality 2016-2020’, had been drawn up following widespread consultation with members.

The council plans to “take national politics to a local level and highlight personal stories to appeal for a vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment”.

Rights

A series of discussions on reproductive rights will take place across the country.

Ms O’Connor said the marriage equality referendum showed there was “ passionate engagement from all demographics” but that conversations must take place “in local towns and communities in order to turn popular engagement into political change”.

The NWCI also plans to focus on addressing high childcare costs, domestic and sexual violence, and the gender pay gap.