‘A Referendum To Repeal The 8th Wouldn’t Pass’


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From top: Amanda Mellet and her husband James Burke; Taoiseach Enda Kenny; and a video of Mr Kenny responding to questions from Ruth Coppinger TD yesterday

My view is that if we were to decide to have a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment in October, it would not be passed. I will explain why.

There needs to be a real discussion here. If we are going to attempt to remove this from the Constitution, people will want to know what we intend to replace it with. I have had problems with this genuine question.

With respect, I do not accept from the Deputy that we should make a rush to judgment in this instance.

The UN committee’s verdict in this sensitive and distressing case is non-binding. It is not like the European court. It speaks for the distress caused to this good woman. As the Deputy knows, another case is being processed.

It is right and proper for us to follow the route of having a properly selected citizens’ assembly that is able to do its business of reflecting on the eighth amendment and what it might mean.

The assembly will consider what changes, if any, should be made to the eighth amendment and how they might be made.

If we are to ask people to vote on this issue, at least we should be able to tell them what will replace the eighth amendment if they vote for its removal. People need to know the options and the consequences.

I genuinely believe people have a right to be able to discuss these things. This matter divided Irish society for over 30 years. I ask the Deputy to believe me when I say it is not a question of a lack of courage.

It is a question of understanding that the entire population has a responsibility and a role in this regard. It is not as simple as saying that a referendum should be held to take out the eighth amendment without saying what it will be replaced with.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking during Leaders’ Questions yesterday.

He was speaking in response to questions from AAA-PBP TD Ruth Coppinger, in light of the UN Human Rights Committee’s findings on the case of Amanda Mellet.


Previously: ‘The Ashes Were Unexpectedly Delivered To Her Three Weeks Later By Courier’

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

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83 thoughts on “‘A Referendum To Repeal The 8th Wouldn’t Pass’

  1. The Real Jane

    I like the fact that he emphasizes that he’s speaking about a good woman in this case, as distinct from the bad woman abortions.

    Unfortunately, the law as it stands punishes the good women and the bad women alike.

    It’s kind of funny – or would be if he wasn’t using this kind of language extremely carefully because so many people do think that there are good women who deserve abortions if they don’t want to be pregnant and bad women who want abortions but can’t have them because they must be punished.

    1. eoghan

      “so many people do think that there are good women who deserve abortions if they don’t want to be pregnant and bad women who want abortions but can’t have them because they must be punished.”

      Do you have a source or an example to back this up?
      It’s an outrageous claim if you don’t.

      1. Sheik Yahbouti

        Eoghan, many decades of observing this farce have tought me that the phrase you deplore in fact encapsulates the situation accurately. There is nothing at all outrageous about it – apart from the injustice to 51% of the population.

      2. Cup of tea anyone?

        I have heard it side that allowing abortions would create a system where abortions would be used as the new contraception. Those would be the bad women. The Good women would be the married ones who get pregnant but it is not viable.

    2. nellyb

      As a modern man, Taoiseach must mention that 8th specifically target single sex. Role of the another is not even obfuscated, but absent. I am disappointed this point is not continuously brought up in discussions.

    3. MoyestWithExcitement

      “I like the fact that he emphasizes that he’s speaking about a good woman in this case, as distinct from the bad woman abortions.”

      As is the case with several socially conservative arguments, they are scared of a *hypothetical* boogeyman. Marriage equality will lead to the end of the concept of family because people are bad. Social welfare is too high because it encourages people not to work because people are bad. Immigrants are only coming to scrounge off or kill us because people are bad. And. Women will go for abortions on the fly like getting a haircut because people are bad.

    4. Junkface

      Enda the plank is totally inept and lacks a backbone when it comes to this issue. Make a decision! You are supposed to be a leader! How are we still stuck with this pinhead after the election?

  2. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

    How about replacing it with nothing? Why does it need to be replaced if the ref is to remove it?

    1. The Real Jane

      Because replacing it wastes a lot of time looking like you’re doing something whereas merely removing it and associated amendments could happen in the next six months and then you’re in a situation where your elderly, religious, rural constituency aren’t happy and, insult to injury, it’s now clear that people want abortion to be permitted in Irish hospitals and you have the headache of legislating.

      Whereas a Breda-And-David Committee could take the length of the current Dail to come up with proposals to imprison pregnant women and control everything they do.

      1. forfeckssake

        It doesn’t belong in the constitution. There is no need to address abortion in the constitution. Once it is removed. The government can act to allow abortion.

        1. newsjustin

          Which is why people who think abortion is never right want the right to life of the unborn protected in the Constitution.

          1. ahjayzis

            If you’re getting that, I want the hedgerow at the back of my property protected by the constitution.

          2. ahjayzis

            I didn’t say it was my private property, belongs to the woman next door, but I want to control it.

            Can we put that in the constitution please?

          3. newsjustin

            It’s already covered under the private property clauses ie it’s your neighbour’s hedge.

            You can try to trivialise it all you like, but the right to life is important. Giving it a constitutional basis is important.

          4. ahjayzis

            Women’s bodily autonomy is important. Their protection from state-torture is a human right.

            Your antiseptic ‘luv dem boat xxx’ language doesn’t disguise you’re advocating that a raped girl without the means to travel must carry her father’s child to term or the woman carrying a foetus without a skull must carry that to term, with people remarking on how she’s glowing etc. – on pain of life imprisonment.

          5. Junkface

            Abortions will not be mandatory you nonce! Its about the right to choose under varied health related circumstances. Choice will always be better than no choice.

          6. Nigel

            It isn’t as if this extreme position hasn’t been shown to be as inhumane as it is unworkable time after time, to the utter shame and disgrace of the whole country, and to the suffering of any number of women in any number of circumstances from the utterly dreadful to the unexcetionable-anywhere-else which simply could not be accommodated.

          7. Anne

            “I didn’t say it was my private property, belongs to the woman next door, but I want to control it.
            Can we put that in the constitution please?”

            Nice one ahjayzis.. And he had no response to say to that too! ha

      1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

        I get some people don’t like abortion. But don’t have one in that case. Support women so they have the resources to have babies IF THEY CHOOSE. Make a stand against sexual violence so women don’t have get pregnant following rape. Invest in medical research with stem cells and all to stop FFA.

        All things pro-life people can’t stand and won’t do because single mothers are sluts, rape victims shouldn’t have been wearing that and stem cells are holy.

        Boo fupping hoo to them

        1. The Real Jane

          Also, once a woman is pregnant, she ceases to be the most important person living in her skin.

          That’s OK (well, tolerable) if you want the pregnancy. But if you didn’t, I cannot imagine what it would be like. It must be horrific to endure an unwanted pregnancy. When you look at the baby you wanted (provided you don’t have post natal depression), the problems with the aftermath of pregnancy and birth at least have a context. But trying to put the pieces of your life back together after an unwanted pregnancy taken to term? Horrific.

          Contrary to what lots of people think (and I probably thought before I had a baby), it’s really not a case of hanging around for a few months, having a baby and then it’s all back to normal (except usually you’ve got to care for an infant). Pregnancy and childbirth have profound consequences for women – physically, mentally, socially, hormonally, financially. No part of you remains unchanged.

        2. newsjustin

          “Don’t like abortion, then don’t have one” is such a weak argument Don. Akin to “don’t like anti-social behaviour, don’t go outside.”

          1. ivan

            It’s not really; there’s a difference between abortion being made legal and it being made mandatory.

            Abortion will become widespread, I suppose, If a lot of women choose to have them. And if women don’t choose to have them, they won’t. And either way, the ‘take up’ (for want of a better phrase) will far better indicate the actual beliefs/morals of the people than an amber-preserved constitutional amendment from nigh on 30 years ago could ever do.

          2. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            You’re a weak argument news. You’ve stated you’re prepared to effectively capitulate your beliefs if the Constitution changes.

            No comment on my other points? No, didn’t think so….

          3. newsjustin

            Don. I would abide by the Constitution. That’s what most reasonable people would do.

          4. The Real Jane

            You would abide by the constitution? So would you start having abortions if they were legal or stop shooting doctors who perform them or what? In what sense will you abide by the constitution if women’s bodily autonomy in pregnancy is restored?

          5. newsjustin

            Jane – I would aknowledge that the majority of the people did not want the unborn’s right to life protected in most cases. I wouldn’t agree with it at all, but that’s democracy for you.

            It’s a pretty big issue for me Don – right to life and all that.

          6. The Real Jane

            It’s a big issue for you, is it, Justin? Imagine how you’d feel if it’s an issue that could have you strapped to a gurney and force fed and then given a section without your consent (that’s an operation, bodily integrity fans!), forced to continue a pregnancy against your will, kept artificially alive or left to die of an infection.

            It’d blow your mind how big an issue it would become.

          7. newsjustin

            I’m sure it would Jane.

            Your problem, if I may say so, is that, like Don, you can’t possibly comprehend that anyone who doesn’t share your views on abortion could possibly have sincere motives and be decent human beings. Any anti-abortion view must automatically come from a position of hating women.

            The fact is, as hard as it may be for you to accept it, that some people do think it’s important and humane to protect the lives of the unborn – whilst also protecting the lives of women. I accept that you see the balance differently and that your motives are sincere though.

          8. The Real Jane

            Well I do think that people who wish to continue this ban on abortion are indifferent to the fate of the women it affects. Completely indifferent. Because we see time and again that women are absolutely not protected. Maternity services are horrendous. Women are treated appallingly in hospitals here. At any point where a conflict between the life of a woman and a foetus occurs, the woman suffers.

            I also think that people who support the eighth amendment do not trust women to be able to judge the circumstances of their lives and decide whether the addition of a new baby is a good idea. The arrogance in deciding that you are better able to judge the circumstances of a stranger’s life and choose the direction of her life on her behalf is breathtaking.

            Let women run their own lives. To prevent them from doing so is showing utter contempt.

          9. Steve

            I get it I’ve a penis therefore I can’t make a judgement on pregnant women.

            I get it nobody’s perfect – and let’s all rip on society / the health service etc. but for the months leading up to pregnancy and for the 9 months during it another human being is depending on its mother to live a healthy lifestyle for its own well being.

            Smoking, excessively boozing, unhealthy diet during pregnancy is a minor form of child abuse .

          10. newsjustin

            “Let women run their own lives.”

            I entirely agree, on every single aspect of life.

            The only time this is problematic is where another life is involved. Then there needs to be a balance between the rights of a woman, in particular her right to life, and the right to life of the other human life.

          11. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            A pretty big issue that you will let lie once some words are removed.

            Yeah, a reallllllyyy big issue for you.

          12. newsjustin

            I guess you do care more Don.

            You care so much you’re keen that babies that survive late term abortions be injected with morphine to kill them, rather than putting them in a warm blanket to die.*

            You Don, are all heart.

            (*from previous Don comments on here)

          13. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            I do care yes because it’s my rights being infringed by asshats like you who are so prolife they would bow at the first change in the Constitution. You have no authenticity as a result. What a joke!

            Go write that in your little diary you complete knobhat.

          14. Nigel

            “don’t like anti-social behaviour, don’t go outside.”

            Yeah, crowds of rowdy loud doctors gettin’ drunk and shooting ephedrine on street corners goin’ ‘C’mere love an’ I’ll take yer appendix out for ye. Hey, whatsamatter? Come back! It’s constitutional!’

          15. Lorcan Nagle

            “Abortion will become widespread, I suppose, If a lot of women choose to have them”

            Abortion is already widespread. One in ten women resident in Ireland will have an abortion during their lives.

          16. dan

            You don’t legislate to privilege unfalsifiable metaphysical beliefs in a democracy.
            Persons who do not yet exist don’t have rights, certainly not rights that outweigh those of fully grown adults.
            Whether or not you believe in abortion, if you actually believe in democracy and the equal rights of citizens in a democracy, abortion, within the usual boundaries, should be legal.

      2. newsjustin

        The Constitution doesn’t mention any medical procedure. It simply affirms the right to life.

        1. ahjayzis

          It affirms the temporary nationalisation of a pregnant woman’s innards.

          You think it’s a weird side effect that it suspends bodily autonomy for pregnant women? Oh fiddlesticks, we’ve accidentally made it the standard medical procedure this entire amendment was based around unconstitutional, whoops!

          Seriously, you’d give the clergy a run for the money on mental gymnastic.

        2. MoyestWithExcitement

          Similarly, when I declare title a dishonest religious zealot, I’m not insulting you, I’m just championing honesty.

    2. Cian

      I can see what he’s saying. if there was a referendum to repeal the 8th tomorrow and *nothing replacing it* then it is a waste of time, as the current laws need to be changed too.
      If the 8th is repealed and not replaced, then the government of the day has full control to legislate for the whole spectrum of zero abortion (as it currently stands) or abortion on demand up to 9 months. And every new government could change this at will.
      If the 8th is repealed and replaced with *something* else, it at least restricts the government of the day from doing *anything* as they please.

      1. forfeckssake

        The new laws would not replace the amendment. He seems to be pushing for some sort of reference to abortion be retained in the constitution but this should be avoided. The amendment was wrong and should be removed.

      2. Lorcan Nagle

        If the 8th is repealed, the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act will still be law in Ireland. Any woman who is proven to have procured an illegal miscarraige in Ireland and anyone who helped her will still be liable to a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

  3. Tish Mahorey

    “If we are going to attempt to remove this from the Constitution, people will want to know what we intend to replace it with. I have had problems with this genuine question.”

    Our Taoiseach creating a false argument to undermine the repeal campaign.

    Enda Kenny is anti-abortion and is serving the Vatican’s wishes. The Vatican is a foreign state so that puts his leadership of this country in question. Could it be construed as treason to serve a foreign state before you’re own?

    1. bisted

      ‘…Could it be construed as treason to serve a foreign state before you’re own?…I don’t think treason is part of the Irish legal canon…could always ask an expert like Alan Shatter or Eamon Gilmore…

  4. bisted

    …so what Enda seems to be saying is…If I wish to know what the Irish want, I look into my own heart…

  5. Eoin

    FG/FF will always try to maintain the status quo to keep their ass backwards, monkey supporters happy.

  6. MoyestWithExcitement

    Unfortunately he’s right about having to give people a chance to discuss it but only because it needs a vote to happen. People probably won’t vote for something of they feel pressured into it. Of course, human rights shouldn’t be put up for public vote at all but here we are.

    1. newsjustin

      People are unlikely to vote to remove all protection for the life of the unborn without knowing what a) alternative constitutional wording will replace it, if any and b) what legislation will be enacted to allow for abortion and in what circumstances.

      Anything else is a pig in a poke and, in those circumstances, Enda’s correct – a referendum would fail (which I’d be fine with). Even the most ardent pro-choice person must see that?

      1. The Real Jane

        Given the front page of the Independent today, it’s pretty clear that women should really be kept in farms to protect the unborn and I sincerely hope that’s what the Breda and David Committee propose.

      2. MoyestWithExcitement

        “what a) alternative constitutional wording will replace it,”

        There doesn’t need to be any. No other modern nation has references to abortion I’m their constitution. It is a religious artefact that needs to be dumped.

        “Enda’s correct – a referendum would fail”

        Nah he’s definitely wrong about that bit. People who already oppose abortion want to know what the alternative would be. Most people just want it gone. It’s an international embarrassment.

  7. Tish Mahorey

    I thought the Dáil was the Citizens Assembly.

    Are they trying to create another wall between politicians and the public now?

  8. Fully Keen

    Unless people protest and protest continually a referendum is a long way off.

    As this place appears to talk about American politics more, it’s like the gun problem in America. No sitting president (*teashock) wants to be the one to make a major change that could destabilize a party or make it easy for the opposition to argue the change and call for an election.

    So I’m guessing, not in the life of this government and possibly the next.

    See ye when I have fibre broadband in about 2022 for a referendum.

    *cheeky banter

  9. 15 cents

    the way he drags his heels over this really shows how little he cares. he’s often stated that he’s heard horrific personal stories from women, but ploughs on with misdirection and distraction and never does anything, meaning he knows that as he does that, more horrific things happen to women. he just cares more about the support he’d lose from the backward crowd who want to keep the 8th. imagine that? just caring about being that over the lives of actual human beings.

    1. The Real Jane

      Yeah, I’d say she’s a bit of a pill, really, isn’t she? Like, it seems she has some interest in women’s rights and dignity and what’s more boring than that? Why can’t she be more fun? Maybe change it up with some giggling now and again? You know, stop talking in her boring woman voice about boring women things and just let it all go. You, Jake, as an example, are someone who doesn’t have to worry unduly about these things, so that makes you a fun individual, right?

    2. Tish Mahorey

      “I’ll bet Ruth Coppinger is a blast in real life.”

      People who use that kind of put down are usually the dullest most predictable braying donkeys.

  10. Steve

    @jane I realise that this statement is usually an oxymoron but what’s wrong with the front page of the indo today??

    1. The Real Jane

      Well today we’re hearing about overweight women becoming pregnant and how that’s a terrible problem for society. Alright, we know no one should really be overweight or obese, but I personally think making this front page news – that women should consider themselves pre-pregnant and not get overweight in case they get pregnant – is a shocking commentary on how this society views women.

      If a woman has a weight problem and becomes pregnant, it’s something private for her to deal with in cooperation with her medical advisers. It’s not front page news, it’s not a good reason for more policing of women and it’s not anyone else’s business.

      Having been detained in Horror St myself, I would kindly suggest that the master of it has plenty on her plate without criticizing her patients in this manner.

      1. Steve

        I know this is off topic and isn’t directly related to the 8th argument …which I want repealed and I’m glad Zappone is pushing it and sees it as red letter issue. Agreed – pace of change is disappointing.

        On the weight issue, completely disagree. I brought this up earlier . Just want to preface the below by saying that this isn’t about fat shaming with me. I’m with Louise Mcsharry – fat people know they are fat and they do not need to be told / shamed into changing their lifestyle – they should be allowed live out their lives as they so please.

        But being obese and knowingly getting pregnant is a completely different matter because they are imposing their lifestyle on another human being. I’m not a doctor but given what health professionals ,including Mahoney , are telling us about the effects obesity has on women/children during / after / years after pregnancy I think it’s perfectly reasonable for such health professionals to make statements for national papers. So it is their business. Considering its going to cost the taxpayer billions to treat the tidal wave of diabetes , heart problems, etc we are going to face over the coming years. Anyway Rhona wasn’t to know it would make front page.

        IMO if you are obese and planning to get pregnant you need to change your lifestyle. Well in advance of getting pregnant. Not doing is selfish IMO and Mahoneys criticism is completely valid.

        1. The Real Jane

          Well, Steve, until such time as you can become pregnant yourself, kindly leave the policing of the weight of a specific woman to the woman herself. This idea that women need to have certain behaviours and conduct themselves in a certain manner just in case they should at some point become pregnant is pretty horrific.

          Not a single individual person is perfect. Nobody can be a perfect parent. But this invitation to society to judge the lifestyles of women who become pregnant is disgusting. Many women report being berated on the street for smoking while pregnant, for example. Yes, it has been long established and accepted that this is not best for the baby, but the woman, as an individual who exists separate to her pregnancy. Sadly, pregnancy happens to real life women who are disappointingly human and will probably continue to be so. Despite all the warnings, we still have to eat, work, clean, care for other children and simply cannot avoid absolutely everything we’re warned against.

          Personally, I’d love to see Irish women refuse to become pregnant until society is actually grateful for what we do and treats us accordingly with proper medical care, any post natal care at all, respect for women’s choices, privacy and bodily integrity, rather than as stupid, irresponsible half wits who deserve every condemnation for what is normal behaviour among Irish people. Pregnancy cannot become a test of women’s personal morals and restraint, although it could easily become a test of how much pressure women are willing to endure.

          1. Steve

            I get it I’ve a penis therefore I can’t make a judgement on pregnant women.

            I get it nobody’s perfect – and let’s all rip on society / the health service etc. but for the months leading up to pregnancy and the for the 9 months during it another human being is depending on its mother to live a healthy lifestyle for its own well being.

            Smoking , excessively boozing , unhealthy diet during pregnancy is s minor form of child abuse.

          2. Gorev Mahagut

            Steve, your penis is depending on you to live a healthy lifestyle for its own wellbeing. Put down that bag of crisps and stop the minor penis abuse.

      2. Hammertime

        Is it not potentially as important an issue as drinking or smoking during pregnancy? Those are also private issues for a mother but can cause serious health problems for her child. Obesity is on the rise so it seems an important issue

  11. The Real Jane

    *I get it nobody’s perfect – and let’s all rip on society / the health service etc. but for the months leading up to pregnancy and for the 9 months during it another human being is depending on its mother to live a healthy lifestyle for its own well being.*

    But you’re not talking about possibly one year, are you? You’re talking about never behaving in any way that could potentially make you overweight/a smoker/an alcoholic/drug dependent/depressed in the years from puberty on. I’m always astonished at how many people are happy to claim that they love little babies etc but have absolutely no respect for the people who make them. Pregnant women are not sources of foul contagion and threat or faulty machines that just aren’t behaving properly for long enough to produce perfect babies. We are all human. Most of us are trying to get on with our lives and believe it or not, most pregnant women are doing the best they can with conflicting information and the necessity to actually continue to support ourselves and the children we have and yes, sometimes women have ongoing health issues, possibly caused by irresponsible behaviour prior to pregnancy. But until you can find another way to incubate babies, the fact that women are just ordinary people will just have to be tolerated.

    And yeah, the fact that you are a man and not subject to any of the rules and strictures you’re doling out is relevant. It’s very easy to make rules that you don’t need to follow yourself.

    1. Steve

      Maybe Mahoney should have just said:

      Everybody men/ women should not be obese – you will end up with diabetes and we may have to cut off your feet.

      Everybody men / women don’t smoke – there’s a 50% chance you will die from it.

      Everybody men / women, don’t excessively booze , you will end up
      With liver disease.

      Oh And if you do and get pregnant you will probably impose such risks on your child.

      1. The Real Jane

        Well the fact is that she chose not to and instead gave further permission for your to curl your lip in disgust at the pregnant woman eating something of which you do not approve while estimating her BMI as you go home. There’s at least that. More ammunition for the constituency who really don’t like or value women as individuals very much.

        1. Steve

          You’re completely correct. Because I think it’s important to lead a healthy lifestyle, man , woman , pregnant or not, I feel I must hate all women.

          Everything I say is laced with an undercurrent of misogyny. Must be why I want the 8th repealed.

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