On May 25th, we are being asked to shape the fundamental law of the State in a referendum. In making our decision, there are certain legal facts on which both sides in the debate can agree:
- The only constitutional protection for the unborn child is in the Eighth Amendment;
- A ‘Yes’ vote will remove all constitutional protection from each unborn child up to birth. In its place, we are asked to give the Oireachtas power to legislate for abortion;
- The Government has told us how they propose to exercise this power, if we give it to them. Draft legislation provides for a wide-ranging right to an abortion not only up to twelve weeks but also up to viability ie up to six months;
- In certain circumstances, under the draft legislation, the unborn child’s life may be ended right up until he or she has been born.
The proposals are extreme and not, as some have suggested, restrictive. Such limitations on access to abortions as might be set could be removed at any time by future Governments or challenged.
Our society will be judged by how it protects the weakest and most vulnerable and how it cares for pregnant women who are afraid or in crisis. With nearly 200 of our colleagues, drawn from every level of the legal profession, we have publicly stated that it would be profoundly unjust to withdraw the existing constitutional protection from the unborn child and to give Government the power that it seeks.
That is why we have called for a ‘NO’ vote.