The date for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the constitution has been set. The referendum will be held on the 25th of May.
Legislation for the vote has been passed through the Seanad today, meaning that a date could be set. Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy are expected to hold a joint press conference to formally announce the date.
The eighth amendment states that the life of the “unborn” is equal to the life of the mother in the eyes of the State. The exact wording of the clause in the constitution is as follows:
“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.”
Speaking at the end of the Seanad debate, Fine Gael’s Catherine Noone, Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, said: “It has been a challenging and intense process. I’m very pleased that we are finally at this stage,” while Senator Ronan Mullen, who has voiced his support to retain the amendment, spoke about the need for both sides to have “equal time in the media”.
The announcement will kick off an 8-week period of campaigning for both sides, which looks set to be divisive. Since the amendment being brought into law in 1983, it has been a point of controversy throughout the country.