Eighth Amendment repealed as President Higgins signs bill into law

The eighth amendment has officially been removed from the Irish constitution, four months after the controversial referendum in May. President Michael D Higgins signed the new legislation on Tuesday; effectively adding a 36th amendment and removing the ban on abortion in Ireland.

“In accordance with Article 46 of the Constitution, President Higgins today signed the Thirty-Sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018, and it has accordingly become law,” said a statement from Áras an Uachtaráin. While the ban on abortion has been lifted, legislation outlining the terms of abortion in Ireland has yet to be signed.

"This is a very important day, I know so many people worked so hard to get to this"

– Minister for health, Simon Harris

Following the announcement, the minister for health Simon Harris shared a video on Twitter saying, “The news has just come in that the president of Ireland has signed the referendum bill into law, after the court challenges have now been dealt with. So it is official. The eighth amendment has been repealed from Bunreacht na hEireann. This is a very important day, I know so many people worked so hard to get to this day.

"My work obviously continues," he said. "We now need to bring in the legislation so we can enact services to look after women with care and compassion in our own country. I’ll go to cabinet next week with the legislation and I hope to introduce it in the Dáil next month. I’ll keep you updated as we make progress.”

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed to the Dáil yesterday that this legislation (allowing for a termination during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy) will be introduced in the first week of October; with abortion services being made available in early 2019.

The eighth amendment, which guaranteed an equal right to life to the mother and unborn child, was added to the constitution in 1983 following an earlier referendum. Nationwide protests against the result ensued; campaigners called for the amendment to be repealed, on the grounds of healthcare and the right to choose.

In May, more than 2.15 million people voted in the second referendum, with almost 67% voting to repeal the eighth. What’s more, the Supreme Court decided there were no grounds for appeal; the people's vote was final.

Photo: President of Ireland on Twitter (@PresidentIRL)

Related: Positive ways to channel that political energy now the referendum is over

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