Law to replace Eighth Amendment not subject of vote, says commission

Referendum Commission urges everyone to vote as it launches information campaign

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy: “The Constitution is important. It is the fundamental law of our State. It is your Constitution and only you have the power to change it.”

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy: “The Constitution is important. It is the fundamental law of our State. It is your Constitution and only you have the power to change it.”

 

The forthcoming referendum is not a vote on the law that may replace the Eighth Amendment, the Referendum Commission has said.

The commission, chaired by Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, will launch its public information campaign on Tuesday ahead of the referendum on May 25th.

A booklet will be distributed to every home across the country and a website, refcom2018.ie, will be launched offering guidance on the question people will be asked.

If the majority of people vote Yes, the commission says the Oireachtas will be allowed to pass laws regulating the termination of pregnancy.

These laws need not be limited to the availability of termination in circumstances where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, it adds.

The Constitution is important. It is the fundamental law of our State. It is your Constitution and only you have the power to change it. How you vote is for you to decide

If the referendum returns a No vote, the present article 40.3.3 will remain in place unchanged and laws may only be passed to provide for the termination of pregnancy only where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother including the risk of suicide.

Termination of pregnancy

Ms Kennedy said the vote will be on whether or not to approve the Thirty-sixth Amendment to the Constitution Bill, which proposes the regulation of the termination of pregnancy in accordance with the law.

“Laws are made by the Oireachtas. You are not being asked in this referendum to vote on any particular law relating to the termination of pregnancy.

“The Constitution is important. It is the fundamental law of our State. It is your Constitution and only you have the power to change it. How you vote is for you to decide.”

The Referendum Commission is tasked with providing impartial and factual information during the campaign.

Check the electoral register online at checktheregister.ie, or by contacting your local authority office. If you are not on it, you can download the relevant form, or ask your local authority office to send it to you

Ms Justice Kennedy says it is not the role of the body to debate the merits or the arguments on either side but to provide an independent, neutral account of what is being proposed.

While it cannot argue for a Yes vote or a No vote, the commission strongly encourages people to vote.

Electoral register

Ms Kennedy said: “At every election and referendum there are many people who can’t vote because they are not registered. There are also many people who have moved house but remain registered at their old address.

“So check the electoral register online at checktheregister.ie, or by contacting your local authority office. If you are not on it, you can download the relevant form, or ask your local authority office to send it to you.”

The commission is to run an extensive advertising campaign on TV, radio, online, in newspapers and on outdoor sites over the coming weeks.

There will also be a printed guide to be delivered to all 2.2 million homes in the State during the first two weeks of May.

The referendum takes place on May 25th and polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.

An Ipsos/MRBI poll for The Irish Times last week found 47 per cent of people are in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, while 20 per cent are undecided and 28 per cent will vote against.

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