15
Jul
17

What post-repeal legislative framework should the movement to repeal the Eighth Amendment be arguing for?

At the recent special strategy conference of the national Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment there was discussion on whether the Coalition should take a position on what legislation should come into force following the successful removal of the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution.

No votes were taken at the conference so it is impossible to judge which position had majority support among the affiliated groups represented but I felt there were five distinct views being outlined by various speakers in the discussion.

Firstly there were those who argued that the Coalition, as a Coalition, should take no position on post-repeal legislation.

This was in accordance with the following section of the Rebels4Choice pre-conference contribution to the strategy discussion:

As a Coalition keep the focus on Repealing the Eighth Amendment. Don’t get drawn onto the ground of tying a referendum to repeal the 8th to what legislation should replace the current restrictive law after the Constitution is changed. Individual groups within the Coalition can choose to take positions on what legal framework, if any, should come into force after the 8th Amendment is repealed but that should be done separately from the Coalition.

As one of the Rebels4Choice representatives at the conference I argued for this in both a workshop session and the main strategy discussion.

Of those who were in favour of the Coalition taking a position on what legislation should replace the existing repressive laws following a successful repeal there were four positions put forward.

The most radical of these was for the Coalition to argue for free, safe and legal with no legal restrictions, just normal health care regulation of the provision of abortion services.

The recommendations of the Citizen’s Assembly were the pivot point for the other three positions. In order of decreasing radicalness these were:

The Coalition to argue for the recommendations of the Citizen’s Assembly to be presented as the bare minimum for any future legislation.

The Coalition to argue for the implementation of the recommendations of the Citizen’s Assembly.

Lastly there was the proposal for a plebiscite, or public consultative vote, to be held at the same time as the Repeal referendum on the four options for extending availability of abortions put forward in the Citizen’s Assembly recommendations:

  • Fatal Foetal Abnormality
  • Health
  • Socio-economic
  • Without restriction up to 12 weeks

With the Coalition calling for all four options to be passed.

As compared to the other two positions using the Citizen’s Assembly recommendations as their reference point this is in effect arguing for those recommendations to be the maximum possible basis for new legislation. This is quite strange given that the groups supporting this are trying to project themselves as the most militant pro-choice section of the movement to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

The idea of proposing a plebiscite is an interesting tactic which I think is definitely worthy of further consideration but if it is directly linked to having the Citizen’s Assembly as the maximum possible outcome then it should be rejected.

Rebels4Choice argues for the decriminalisation of abortion services with those services being treated as any other medical procedure decided by the individual woman in consultation with her health care professional in the context of free and widely available abortion services with appropriate health care regulations to guarantee the highest possible quality of care. If it was considered necessary for the Coalition to take a position as a Coalition I would argue for this to be the position taken.

Alan Gibson
(in a personal capacity)

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2 Responses to “What post-repeal legislative framework should the movement to repeal the Eighth Amendment be arguing for?”


  1. 1 Alibaba
    July 16, 2017 at 14:07

    Why was no vote taken at the national Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment conference? Did nobody challenge this? Or perhaps there is a good reason for why it didn’t have decision making powers which escape me.

    • July 19, 2017 at 08:08

      It wasn’t challenged at the conference itself – too late by then. I don’t know why it wasn’t decision making. Of course this does mean the next steering group meeting becomes very important.


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