Prominent barristers share lessons from 1983 to pro-choice campaigners

Peter Ward SC
Peter Ward SC

Prominent barristers who campaigned against the Eighth Amendment in the 1983 referendum have shared “key lessons” to those favouring its repeal.

Barristers Peter Ward SC and Catherine Forde spoke at a round-table discussion hosted by the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, marking the amendment’s 34th anniversary.

Mr Ward, who is also chairperson of legal rights group FLAC, told the event: “In 1983, we argued that it is impossible to regulate the issue of abortion within the narrow confines of a constitutional provision. Since then, we have been proven correct again and again.

“It is for the Oireachtas to do the job for which its members were elected and legislate in detail on the circumstances in which abortion shall be lawful in this country. In order to allow members of the Oireachtas to pass the laws that are necessary and long overdue, the Eighth Amendment must be repealed.”

Ms Forde, former chairperson of the Irish Family Planning Association, added: “We did not fully understand the far-reaching consequences of the Eighth Amendment in 1983, and we still do not.

“There is no space for health regulation in a Constitution; the only option is to delete the Eighth Amendment and acknowledge that it should never have been inserted.”