Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

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The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland specified that the prohibition of abortion would not limit the right to distribute information about abortion services in foreign countries. It was effected by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1992, which was approved by referendum on 25 November 1992 and signed into law on the 23 December of the same year.

Changes to the text[edit]

  • Insertion of new subsection in Article 40.3.3:
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.
  • Together, this, and the Thirteenth Amendment made the full text of the constitution in regard to abortion (40.3.3) the following:
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.
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.

Overview[edit]

The Amendment was adopted in November 1992 by a plebiscite of the Irish people, largely in response to Attorney General v. X - a case that arose where a 14-year-old girl who had become pregnant from rape was threatened with legal action for travelling to the United Kingdom to obtain an abortion.

It was intended to allow Irish citizens the freedom to pursue and learn about abortion services in other countries. The actual text of the amendment, however, did not mention the word "abortion". It simply provides that Irish citizens are free to learn about "services" that are illegal within the Republic but legal in other countries.

On the same day the Thirteenth Amendment was approved, guaranteeing freedom of travel with respect to the issue. Another proposal, the Twelfth Amendment, which would have held that the possibility of suicide was not a sufficient threat to justify an abortion, was rejected.

Result[edit]

Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland referendum[1]
Choice Votes  %
Referendum passed Yes 992,833 59.88
No 665,106 40.12
Valid votes 1,657,939 95.70
Invalid or blank votes 74,494 4.30
Total votes 1,732,433 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 2,542,841 68.13

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