Citizens' Assembly votes to change Ireland abortion laws

In Ireland the mother and the unborn child have an equal right to life. Credit: PA

A special committee set up to deliberate Ireland's abortion laws has voted for the constitutional rules to be changed.

The Citizens' Assembly backed advising constitutional reform by 87%.

The randomly selected group of 99 members of the public is chaired by Supreme Court Judge Mary Laffoy, met to discuss the contentious issue for the last time on Saturday.

In Ireland, the eighth amendment to the Republic's Constitution gives equal right to life to the mother and the unborn child.

As well as voting on whether to advise constitutional change, a series of other votes are being held over the course of the weekend to determine what specific changes will be recommended.

In Ireland, since 2014, a pregnancy can be terminated under the Protection Of Life During Pregnancy Act if there is a risk to a woman's life, including from suicide.

The procedure can involve a medical or surgical termination or an early delivery by induction or Caesarean section to deliver the baby.

But there are growing campaigns for women to be allowed access to abortion if their unborn child is diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality or in cases of rape and incest.

Figures from the Health Service Executive showed 26 terminations were carried out under the legislation in 2014 and the same number again in 2015.

In both years, 14 arose from a risk to the life of the mother from physical illness, three in relation to suicide and nine following emergencies arising from physical illness.