The 8th Amendment, And The Proposed Changes, Explained


What is the 8th Amendment?

The 8th amendment, more formally known as Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution, states that: “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.”

What does the Constitution mean when it says “unborn”?

When the Constitution says “Unborn”, it means any developing baby or foetus in the womb, no matter how far along the pregnancy is.

What will I actually be voting on during the referendum on May 25th?

You will be asked if you would like to remove the text of the 8th amendment from the constitution, in its entirety, and replace it with the text ‘Provision may be made in law for regulation of termination of a pregnancy.’

What will happen if the referendum is passed and the 8th is repealed?

The significance of this is that any change to the constitution needs the vote of the people. Legislation can be changed by a vote of the Oireachtas.

Will the unborn still have constitutional rights if the 8th amendment is removed?

The Supreme Court recently ruled that the 8th amendment was the only rights that the unborn have under the Irish Constitution. If the 8th is repealed the unborn will have no rights up to the moment of birth.

Has the current government said what legislation they will bring in if it is repealed?

If the 8th amendment is repealed the current Government have said that they will introduce new legislation to regulate abortion in Ireland. This legislation will allow abortion up to 12 weeks, for any reason, will allow abortion up to 6 months, if the mother’s life OR health, either physical or mental, is at risk, and will allow abortion up to birth, if the child is deemed to have a condition which means they are unlikely to survive long after birth.

You can read an explainer of the legislation, as well as a link to the legislation itself, HERE.

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