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Anti-abortion campaign groups intend to strongly pressure TDs and Senators against loosening the State’s abortion laws after the Citizens’ Assembly recommended significant liberalisation of the existing regulations.
Several political sources last night said they believed the current Dáil would not change the laws to the extent proposed by the assembly, which yesterday recommended by almost two to one that abortion without restriction as to reasons be made available in the State.
The assembly has mandated the Oireachtas to deal with the issue of abortion, saying the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which gives an equal right to life to the mother and the unborn, should be amended.
A final report by the assembly is to be issued in June, and this will then be considered by a special Oireachtas committee.
While a referendum is seen as inevitable, a Fine Gael Minister privately said the current Dáil is highly unlikely to put as liberal a set of proposals as those recommended to the electorate.
“But if the Citizens Assembly is the way middle Ireland is thinking, we can’t ignore it,” the Minister added.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have already said their TDs will have a free vote on the matter. It is likely they will come under intense pressure as the Oireachtas deals with the issue or during a general election campaign, if there is one before a referendum.
“The assembly is not what matters,” said Niamh Uí Bhriain, of the anti-abortion Life Institute, who does not believe the public would back repeal of the abortion ban. “We already have an assembly and it is called Dáil Éireann and at the end of the day the people will vote on the issue.”
Niall Behan of the Irish Family Planning Association said that the assembly had provided the Oireachtas committee that will consider the issue with “an extremely strong imperative for change.”