Where Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Labour stand on abortion
None favour implementing Assembly proposal to greatly increased access to abortion
Fine Gael said it echoes the sentiments expressed by the chair of the Citizens’ Assembly, Ms Justice Laffoy. Photograph: Eric Luke
None of the four main parties favour implementing the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly for greatly increased access to abortion. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have promised their TDs a free vote on the issue of a referendum if and when it reaches the floor of the Dáil, while Labour and Sinn Féin favour repeal of the Eighth Amendment and legislation for limited access to abortion – only in cases of rape and fatal foetal abnormality and where there is a threat to the health, as opposed to the life, of the woman.
Many Independent TDs favour legalisation of abortion along the lines of the United Kingdom, while others are among the Dáil’s most vocal anti-abortion advocates.
The Irish Times asked each of the four main parties to supply a statement of their policy on abortion and their approach to the committee’s deliberations. There are their responses:
“The Irish people will decide the way forward on this issue. We echo the sentiments expressed by the chair of the Citizen’s Assembly, Ms Justice Laffoy, that the Eighth Amendment is one of the most complex and contentious topics in Irish society and there are many voices and opinions. Everyone should have an opportunity to participate in this debate.
“The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment will hear from the experts, debate the issues, and propose wording for the referendum to take place next year.
“When this wording is decided, Fine Gael parliamentary party members will each make their own decision as to their position on the matter.”
“Fianna Fáil is engaging fully with the special Oireachtas Committee established to consider the Citizens’ Assembly report and recommendations on the Eighth Amendment.
“There are meetings scheduled every week between now and December and our members will be playing a constructive part examining the presentations from the experts. We will also do our utmost to ensure that the timetable agreed by the committee is adhered to.”
“As a party we seek the complete repeal of the Eighth Amendment from the constitution and enactment of legislation to allow for abortion in certain circumstances thereafter. In any referendum to repeal the Eighth, Sinn Féin will play a central part in campaigning for repeal. Indeed, we have already started campaigning.
“Sinn Féin wants to repeal the Eighth Amendment and enact legislation ensuring safe access to abortions for women in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality.”
“The Labour Party supports the repeal and removal of the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution and would legislate for terminations on the grounds of rape, incest, fatal foetal abnormalities, and to protect the life and health of the mother, as set as party policy by our national conference.
“As the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly differ slightly from that position, our representative on the Joint Committee Jan O’Sullivan TD will be examining those recommendations in detail on our behalf, and will argue for the best possible outcome for the women of Ireland.
“Labour’s priority is to see the Eighth Amendment repealed, and the Oireachtas empowered to legislate on the issue.”