Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1992

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Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1992
To exclude the risk of suicide as sufficient reason to legally allow an abortion
LocationRepublic of Ireland Ireland
Date25 November 1992 (1992-11-25)
Results
Votes %
Yes 572,177 34.65%
No 1,079,297 65.35%
Valid votes 1,651,474 95.28%
Invalid or blank votes 81,835 4.72%
Total votes 1,733,309 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 2,542,841 68.16%

The Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1992 was a failed proposal to amend the Constitution of Ireland, to exclude the risk of suicide as sufficient reason to legally allow an abortion. It was rejected in a referendum on 25 November 1992.

The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments were approved in referendums on the same day. As these could not be renamed, there has been no enacted Twelfth Amendment of the constitution.

Proposed changes to the text[edit]

Proposed insertion of additional text to Article 40.3.3º:

It shall be unlawful to terminate the life of an unborn unless such termination is necessary to save the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother where there is an illness or disorder of the mother giving rise to a real and substantial risk to her life, not being a risk of self-destruction.

Background[edit]

The Eighth Amendment passed in 1983 added the following text to the Constitution as Article 40.3.3º:

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 March 1992, the Supreme Court held in Attorney General v. X (commonly known as the X Case), that a 14-year-old girl who had become pregnant as a result of rape could obtain an abortion in circumstances where there was a threat to her life from suicide. This amendment proposed that the possibility of suicide was not a sufficient threat to justify an abortion. The proposal was put to a referendum on 25 November 1992 but was rejected.

On the same day, the Thirteenth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment were approved by referendum. The former guaranteed freedom of travel abroad to obtain an abortion, and the latter, access to information in Ireland with respect to the same issue. The 1992 general election was held on the same date.

Passage through the Oireachtas[edit]

The Twelfth Amendment Bill was proposed in the Dáil by Minister for Justice Pádraig Flynn.[1] The Amendment was approved by the Dáil on 27 October 1992:

Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1992: Final Stages.
Absolute majority: 83/166
Vote Parties Votes
☑Y Yes Fianna Fáil (63), Progressive Democrats (5)
68 / 166
No Fine Gael (35), Labour Party (13), Democratic Left (6), Green Party (1), Independent (2)
57 / 166
Source: Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1992: Committee and Final Stages.

Fianna Fáil Senator Des Hanafin, a member of the Pro Life Campaign (PLC), did not vote for the government wording. He proposed an amendment at committee stage proposing the wording supported by the PLC:

It shall be unlawful to act in such a way as to bring about the termination of the life of an unborn unless such termination arises indirectly as a side-effect of treatment designed to protect the life of the mother.

This wording was not voted on, and the bill was approved by the Seanad on 30 October 1992.

Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1992: Final Stages.
Absolute majority: 31/60
Vote Parties Votes
☑Y Yes Fianna Fáil (26)
26 / 60
No Fine Gael (11), Labour Party (2), Independent (3)
17 / 60
Source: Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1992: Committee and Final Stages.

Result[edit]

The amendment was put to a referendum on 25 November, where it was rejected.

Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland Bill 1992[2]
Choice Votes %
Referendum failed No 1,079,297 65.35
Yes 572,177 34.65
Valid votes 1,651,474 95.28
Invalid or blank votes 81,835 4.72
Total votes 1,733,309 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 2,542,841 68.16
Results by constituency[2]
Constituency Electorate Turnout (%) Votes Proportion of votes
Yes No Yes No
Carlow–Kilkenny 81,192 69.2% 20,130 32,900 38.0% 62.0%
Cavan–Monaghan 79,004 70.3% 20,494 31,290 39.6% 60.4%
Clare 65,579 67.9% 15,504 26,251 37.1% 62.9%
Cork East 58,160 71.9% 12,684 27,210 31.8% 68.2%
Cork North-Central 68,209 66.6% 13,876 30,024 31.6% 68.4%
Cork North-West 44,578 75.4% 9,346 22,225 29.6% 70.4%
Cork South-Central 75,747 71.1% 16,862 35,224 32.4% 67.6%
Cork South-West 44,627 73.8% 9,954 20,638 32.5% 67.5%
Donegal North-East 46,934 67.3% 8,313 21,496 27.9% 72.1%
Donegal South-West 48,494 62.2% 8,623 19,666 30.5% 69.5%
Dublin Central 59,941 61.3% 11,557 23,922 32.6% 67.4%
Dublin North 62,917 69.0% 16,037 26,309 37.9% 62.1%
Dublin North-Central 64,349 71.8% 14,302 30,815 31.7% 68.3%
Dublin North-East 57,888 69.7% 14,329 25,220 36.2% 63.8%
Dublin North-West 57,951 65.3% 12,485 24,251 34.0% 66.0%
Dublin South 84,767 70.5% 15,976 42,424 27.4% 72.6%
Dublin South-Central 63,316 64.4% 12,656 27,164 31.8% 68.2%
Dublin South-East 68,366 58.9% 10,361 29,097 26.3% 73.7%
Dublin South-West 69,654 61.9% 16,832 25,330 39.9% 60.1%
Dublin West 57,755 65.0% 14,461 22,258 39.4% 60.6%
Dún Laoghaire 85,924 68.7% 17,284 40,503 29.9% 70.1%
Galway East 42,604 68.8% 10,364 16,832 38.1% 61.9%
Galway West 78,539 63.7% 15,557 31,337 33.2% 66.8%
Kerry North 48,606 69.6% 9,885 21,464 31.5% 68.5%
Kerry South 44,034 70.1% 10,370 17,861 36.7% 63.3%
Kildare 77,798 65.3% 19,187 29,873 39.1% 60.9%
Laois–Offaly 77,226 70.2% 18,915 31,947 37.2% 62.8%
Limerick East 71,004 68.6% 14,799 31,800 31.8% 68.2%
Limerick West 44,768 71.3% 9,086 20,581 30.6% 69.4%
Longford–Roscommon 60,452 74.9% 16,155 25,701 38.6% 61.4%
Louth 65,666 67.3% 16,509 25,999 38.8% 61.2%
Mayo East 43,392 68.0% 10,055 17,044 37.1% 62.9%
Mayo West 43,407 68.4% 11,009 16,165 40.5% 59.5%
Meath 77,900 66.0% 19,570 29,688 39.7% 60.3%
Sligo–Leitrim 60,675 70.5% 14,817 24,887 37.3% 62.7%
Tipperary North 42,633 74.9% 10,102 19,693 33.9% 66.1%
Tipperary South 56,705 70.3% 12,713 24,952 33.7% 66.3%
Waterford 63,692 67.7% 13,372 27,852 32.4% 67.6%
Westmeath 46,128 67.0% 10,901 18,340 37.3% 62.7%
Wexford 75,553 69.6% 18,421 31,371 37.0% 63.0%
Wicklow 76,707 67.8% 18,324 31,693 36.6% 63.4%
Total 2,542,841 68.2% 572,177 1,079,297 34.7% 65.3%

Later developments[edit]

No legislation was enacted in the aftermath of this defeated referendum. In 2002, the proposed Twenty-fifth Amendment would have similarly excluded the risk of suicide as grounds for an abortion. On this occasion, the government proposal did have the support of the Pro Life Campaign. This too was rejected in a referendum, but by a much narrower margin.

The European Court of Human Rights found against the state in A, B and C v Ireland (2010). The government responded to this with the enactment of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, which provided for abortion in the cases where there was a risk to the life of the woman, including from a risk of suicide.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pádraig Flynn, Minister for Justice (20 October 1992). "Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 1992: Second Stage.". Dáil Debates. 423. Ireland: Dáil Éireann. col. 1893.
  2. ^ a b "Referendum Results" (PDF). Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. p. 47. Retrieved 31 January 2018.

External links[edit]