UN Committee on the Rights of the Child member José Angel Rodríguez Reyes, of Venezuela, and Children’s Minister Dr James Reilly in Geneva this afternoon
Children’s Minister Dr James Reilly and officials from the Irish government are continuing to answer questions from members of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, Switzerland.
The issue of abortion was raised again.
José Angel Rodríguez Reyes: “I would like briefly to ask whether you intend to consult the Irish people to hear their opinion with regard to article 43.3.3 on abortion? And at the same time, how do you reconcile the legal prohibition on abortion with the need for adolescents to be provided with appropriate medical services of any type, if they’re faced with any type of situation that requires medical attention? Thank you.”
Irish government official: “… First, in relation to the need for appropriate services, the services reflect the existing legal position in relation to abortion in Ireland and that is the extent to which the State services will address the issue…yes, minister [nods in direction of Dr James Reilly]. And secondly in relation to consulting the people, the minister will be pleased to answer that.”
Dr James Reilly: “Thank you very much. Just in relation to the first part of the question. As the minister who brought in the Protection of Life In Pregnancy Bill at the time, it was very clearly, the advises that we had that if we were to go any further than we did, we would require a referendum. In relation to that issue the Taoiseach, the prime minister of the country, has made it very clear that this issue needs to be addressed through a citizens’ convention because by simply repealing the 8th amendment, you leave a vacuum and therefore, if there was to be a repeal of the 8th amendment, there would be a need for something to replace it.
And clearly we would need to have a citizens’ convention to discuss if a) that would happen and b) what wording would replace the existing wording. I just want, for the benefit of the committee, to make it clear that the X case, from the 1990s, made it very clear that abortion was legal in certain circumstances in Ireland and that the purpose of the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Bill was to clarify for women what was available to them under the law and clarify for the medical profession what was permissible under the law. I hope that clarifies the situation. None the less, it’s a matter for the next government and I make no presumption what the next government a) be constituted of or b) what it might do.”
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