Guidelines for making a submission to the Citizens’ Assembly

Guidelines for making a submission to the Citizens’ Assembly

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What does the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution say?

“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.”

 

Making a submission to the Citizens’ Assembly

As you know, a Citizens’ Assembly made up of 99 members of the public and chaired by Justice Mary Laffoy, has been given the task of making recommendations on whether or not a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment should be held.   The 8th Amendment is Ireland’s last remaining constitutional protection for unborn children and their mothers. The Assembly has invited submissions from interested members of the public. The closing date for receipt of submissions is 16th December 2016.

It’s important that the Citizens’ Assembly hears from lots of pro-life supporters who can explain in a reasoned and compassionate way why it’s vital that we keep the Eighth Amendment. 

Below, we have set out some pointers that you might like to bear in mind when putting your own submission together.  After you have considered the pointers, please click here to make your submission.

 

  •       The Eighth Amendment saves lives

There are very few laws that we can say with certainty save lives, but the Eighth Amendment is one such law. The Pro Life Campaign commissioned an independent actuarial report which can be accessed here and which shows that, at the most conservative estimate, 100,000 people are alive in Ireland today thanks to the Eighth Amendment.  This is an incredible fact that we should be immensely proud of as a country.

  •       The humanity of the unborn child

The unborn child cannot be written off as just a “clump of cells”.  A baby’s heart beats just 21 days after conception (possibly even as early as 16 days).  By week 11, there has been so much development – the baby can swallow yawn.  He or she can stretch and jump and the internal organs and nervous system are working.  We need to acknowledge this humanity and recognise the fact that this tiny human being needs to be protected by our laws just like every other member of Irish society.

  •      Ireland’s excellent record in maternal care

Ireland has an excellent record in caring for women in pregnancy. When measured against any standard in the world, Ireland’s medical profession still ranks as a world leader in terms of safeguarding the lives of women.  

  •     Abortion discriminates against babies with disabilities

The introduction of abortion leads to terrible discrimination against babies with disabilities. At the moment, babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the womb are particularly vulnerable.  90% of these babies are aborted in England and Wales and Denmark has set itself a goal of being “Down Syndrome free” by 2030.  This is very different to the welcoming society we want in Ireland, where children with special needs are nurtured and encouraged.

  •     Positive alternatives to abortion

Instead of introducing abortion, we should focus on positive alternatives like adoption. So many families are waiting to adopt in Ireland and there are so few babies available.  Every child is wanted by someone even if the circumstances are very difficult at the time and there may be a lot of pressure on the woman in question to have an abortion. 

  •     Families deserve the best perinatal palliative care

Abortion is not an appropriate response to babies who are seriously or terminally ill. Families who receive a difficult diagnosis need support and access to the very best perinatal palliative care.  Instead of letting families feel that abortion is their only option when they hear that their baby is sick, the very best care should be made available for these vulnerable babies who may only live for a very short time after birth. 

  •     There is no such thing as “restrictive abortion”

Once abortion is legalised, it becomes impossible to restrict. This is very clear when you look at other countries.  In England and Wales, abortion was introduced in 1967 on supposedly “restrictive grounds”.  Today, 1 in every 5 pregnancies ends in abortion in England and Wales.  Abortion is available right up to birth if they baby is diagnosed with even a minor disability.

  •     The value of a personal story

Do you have a personal story that you are happy to include as part of your submission? If so, be sure that you have checked with the people concerned and that they are happy for you to share the story. Also make sure when sending your submission that you state clearly whether you would like the personal story to be read privately and not published or whether you are happy for it to be published on the website which will be open to everyone. (All submissions are due to be published so if you would not like your story published, please let the Assembly’s secretary know).

Don’t miss the deadline of 16th December!

Click here to make your submission.  Thank you.