The Eighth Amendment inserted Article 40.3.3 into the Irish Constitution by referendum in 1983. Article 40.3.3 states*:
“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.”
In the 35 years since its insertion, the Eighth Amendment has caused the denial of basic human rights of women and girls** including, in some cases, the right to life.
In the referendum, you will be asked to remove Article 40.3.3 from the Irish constitution
The ICCL supports the removal of Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution.
Over the coming weeks, ICCL will highlight a number of cases where the Eighth Amendment resulted in violations of fundamental human rights. We have focused on 9 rights in particular – the right to life; the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; the right to freedom from arbitrary detention; the right to be free from discrimination; the right to adequate healthcare, the right to information about healthcare, and the right to dignity in healthcare; the right to privacy; and the right to bodily integrity – but we could have focused on more. Many of the cases we will highlight are cases in which women were subjected to violations of multiple or even all of these rights.
In effect, for over 35 years, the State has guaranteed the right to life of the fetus OVER the rights to life, health, dignity and privacy of women and girls. The State has also subjected pregnant people to inhuman and degrading treatment and arbitrary deprivation of liberty, all as a result of the 8th Amendment.
*Article 40.3.3 was further amended in subsequent referendums to include the following:
“This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state.”
“This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state.”
These amendments confer the “right to travel” for an abortion and the right to information about abortion in other countries.
**Our references to women and girls should be understood to include people of all genders and those who may become pregnant.