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 a new paragraph in Article 40.3.3º:

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.

The subsection relating to abortion had originally been added with the Eighth Amendment in 1983. With the approval of the Thirteenth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment, the full text of Article 40.3.3º read as the follows:

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 Society for the Protection of Unborn Children had successfully obtained two injunctions affecting the availability of information on abortion services outside of the state. In Attorney General (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (Ireland) Ltd.) v Open Door Counselling Ltd. and Dublin Wellwoman Centre Ltd. (1988), an injunction was granted restraining two counseling agencies from assisting women to travel abroad to obtain abortions or informing them of the methods of communications with such clinics, and in Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (Ireland) Ltd. v Grogan (1989), an injunction was granted restraining three students' unions from distributing information in relation to abortion available outside the state. The Fourteenth Amendment overturned these judgments and allowed for information on abortion under terms regulated by law.

On the same day, two referendums were held in response to aspects the X Case: the Twelfth Amendment which would have excluded the risk of suicide as grounds for an abortion, which was defeated, and the Thirteenth Amendment, to permit travel outside of the state to obtain an abortion, which was approved.

The legislation anticipated by the Fourteenth Amendment was provided for in the Regulation of Information (Services Outside the State For Termination of Pregnancies) Act, 1995. This bill was referred by the President to the Supreme Court prior to its enactment, which upheld it as constitutional, having assigned counsel to argue that it provided inadequate protection to the life of the unborn, and counsel to argue that it provided inadequate protection to the rights of a woman.

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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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