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Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland

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

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.

Background

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 of the Supreme Court decision in the X Case decided in March 1992: 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. These three referendums were held on the same day as the 1992 general election.

Passage through the Oireachtas

The Fourteenth Amendment was proposed in the Dáil by Minister for Justice Pádraig Flynn.[1] It was passed in the Dáil 22 October and in the Seanad on 30 October 1992.[2][3]

Result

Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland referendum[4]
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
Results by constituency
Constituency Electorate Total Poll Turnout Yes Yes % No No % Spoilt Deviation
Carlow–Kilkenny 81,192 56,177 69.19 31,463 59.20 21,684 40.80 3,030 -0.68
Cavan–Monaghan 79,004 55,492 70.24 26,934 51.94 24,919 48.06 3,639 -7.94
Clare 65,579 44,545 67.93 25,092 59.66 16,964 40.34 2,489 -0.22
Cork East 58,160 41,757 71.80 20,924 52.28 19,102 47.72 1,731 -7.60
Cork North-Central 68,209 45,415 66.58 24,266 55.21 19,689 44.79 1,460 -4.67
Cork North-West 44,578 33,624 75.43 14,674 46.46 16,910 53.54 2,040 -13.42
Cork South-Central 75,747 53,889 71.14 32,218 61.64 20,050 38.36 1,621 +1.76
Cork South-West 44,627 32,933 73.80 15,562 50.59 15,197 49.41 2,174 -9.29
Donegal North-East 46,934 31,537 67.19 12,395 41.41 17,538 58.59 1,604 -18.47
Donegal South-West 48,494 30,133 62.14 11,797 41.77 16,446 58.23 1,890 -18.11
Dublin Central 59,941 36,768 61.34 20,812 58.47 14,784 41.53 1,172 -1.41
Dublin North 62,917 43,426 69.02 31,534 74.17 10,983 25.83 909 +14.29
Dublin North-Central 64,349 46,042 71.55 29,253 64.91 15,815 35.09 974 +5.03
Dublin North-East 57,888 40,284 69.59 28,623 72.17 11,036 27.83 625 +12.29
Dublin North-West 57,951 37,823 65.27 24,485 66.25 12,474 33.75 864 +6.37
Dublin South 84,767 59,651 70.37 43,613 74.39 15,018 25.61 1,020 +14.51
Dublin South-Central 63,316 40,594 64.11 25,825 64.93 13,949 35.07 820 +5.05
Dublin South-East 68,366 40,223 58.83 26,557 67.87 12,573 32.13 1,093 +7.99
Dublin South-West 69,654 43,105 61.88 31,009 73.51 11,173 26.49 923 +13.63
Dublin West 57,755 37,463 64.87 26,235 71.46 10,478 28.54 750 +11.58
Dún Laoghaire 85,924 59,120 68.80 44,009 75.86 14,001 24.14 1,110 +15.98
Galway East 42,604 28,345 66.53 14,885 54.38 12,487 45.62 973 -5.50
Galway West 78,539 50,107 63.80 28,761 60.84 18,515 39.16 2,831 +0.96
Kerry North 48,606 33,840 69.62 15,875 50.30 15,683 49.70 2,282 -9.58
Kerry South 44,034 30,881 70.13 15,389 54.10 13,058 45.90 2,434 -5.78
Kildare 77,798 50,769 65.26 33,425 67.72 15,935 32.28 1,409 +7.84
Laois–Offaly 77,226 54,188 70.17 27,552 53.84 23,624 46.16 3,012 -6.04
Limerick East 71,004 48,702 68.59 27,100 57.75 19,823 42.25 1,779 -2.13
Limerick West 44,768 31,932 71.33 14,629 49.10 15,165 50.90 2,138 -10.78
Longford–Roscommon 60,452 45,381 75.07 22,402 53.23 19,686 46.77 3,293 -6.65
Louth 65,666 44,181 67.28 24,356 57.15 18,260 42.85 1,565 -2.73
Mayo East 43,392 29,514 68.02 14,434 52.89 12,857 47.11 2,223 -6.99
Mayo West 43,407 29,694 68.41 15,838 57.84 11,544 42.16 2,312 -2.04
Meath 77,900 51,391 65.97 30,493 61.64 18,978 38.36 1,920 +1.76
Sligo–Leitrim 60,675 42,742 70.44 21,659 54.39 18,164 45.61 2,919 -5.49
Tipperary North 42,633 32,006 75.07 15,403 51.31 14,614 48.69 1,989 -8.57
Tipperary South 56,705 39,882 70.33 20,144 52.98 17,878 47.02 1,860 -6.90
Waterford 63,692 43,361 68.08 25,661 61.64 15,971 38.36 1,729 +1.76
Westmeath 46,128 30,921 67.03 15,874 54.14 13,447 45.86 1,600 -5.74
Wexford 75,553 52,593 69.61 28,384 56.87 21,530 43.13 2,679 -3.01
Wicklow 76,707 52,002 67.79 33,289 66.06 17,104 33.94 1,609 +6.18
Total 2,542,841 1,732,433 68.13 992,833 59.88 665,106 40.12 74,494 0.00

The Deviation column indicates the support for a Yes vote in the constituency relative to the national result.

Aftermath

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. It was found to be constitutional and signed into law on 12 May 1995.

Potential Repeal

The government has proposed the Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018 with a referendum due to be held on 25 May 2018.[5] If passed, this would replace the current text of Article 40.3.3° with the following text:

Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.

See also

References

External links