Press Release

Publication of Green Paper on Abortion

The Government today (10 September 1999) published the Green Paper on Abortion.

The purpose of the Green Paper is to stimulate and to facilitate informed public discussion on the options in relation to the issue of abortion in the light of the range of constitutional, legal, medical, moral, social and ethical issues involved.

The Government believes that by addressing the issues in this one document, all sides to the debate will come to a clearer understanding of each other’s point of view. The Green Paper discusses a wide range of issues in relation to abortion and considers a number of constitutional and legislative avenues for addressing the issue.

The Green Paper is also being referred to the All-Party Committee on the Constitution. The All-Party Committee has been requested to examine the issue on a constitutional level and/or a statutory level as it sees fit.

The Government wishes to seek the broadest possible consensus on the way forward and believes that the process of consultation and dialogue begun by the Green Paper will lay the foundations for a better and more reasoned understanding of the issues.

The Government also emphasises that the very complexity of the issues makes it essential that all implications of proposed changes, if any, in the Constitution or in the law be carefully examined and be fully understood.

In addition, the Government is conscious that, while much of the debate on abortion has focused on the constitutional and legal issues, almost 6,000 Irish women had abortions in England and Wales last year. The social context of abortion is discussed in Chapter 6 of the Green Paper. The Government is committed to the development of a programme to combat the incidence of crisis pregnancy and to seek to reduce the number of such pregnancies which end in abortion.

This programme will include the promotion of responsible sexual behaviour of young people, the strengthening of existing contraception and counselling services and the provision of improved support structures generally for women with a crisis pregnancy.

The full text of the Green Paper is available on the web.