Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) held an open forum on the eighth amendment this evening in the Joly theatre in the Hamilton Building .
The forum was divided into two parts. The first section saw a number of speakers, including students and experts in their field, speak for a number of minutes, before fielding questions from the audience.
The two professional speakers were asked to give informative talks and were not allowed to advocate for a particular stance on the issue.
The first speaker was Professor Oran Doyle, Head of Trinity College Law School and Constitutional Advisor to the Citizen’s Assembly, who gave an overview of the legal implications of the repeal of the eighth amendment. He stated that the issue was a “dynamic one”. He said that there was two major questions surrounding the amendment’s repeal, which are: “What should the law be and who should write the law?”
Dr. Marion Dyer, a general practitioner (GP) and Associate Professor in the School of Public Health TCD followed to give the medical perspective. Among other points, she talked of how the amendment affects medical practitioners and the alternatives women when legal abortion is unavailable to them.
Included in her speech were a number of statistics related to abortion in Ireland. She stated that “99.9% of GPs that have dealt with a crisis pregnancy consultation” in Ireland. When discussing the numbers of women who travel to the United Kingdom (UK) to get an abortion, she said: “In 2015, 3,625 woman gave an Irish address to a UK abortion clinic”, continuing that this figures does not “capture the women with friends and family in the UK who gave that address”. She added: “Women from every county in Ireland have travelled to the UK for an abortion”
Following that, two student speakers gave their stance for several minutes. Arguing for the retention of the eighth amendment was Kate Kleinle from Students’ for Life. Keire Murphy, from TCDSU Repeal Committee, argued for its repeal.
Kleinle spoke first. Among other arguments, Kleinle gave various examples of other countries who have legalised access to abortion and the impact it has had in those countries. She finished her speech by saying that if the eighth amendment was appealed, it would be a “travesty”. Following this, Murphy: “I’m not sure my moral stance on abortion and the ethics are complicated”. She added: “The eighth has failed every women in Ireland who has needed an abortion. We make woman leave the State on one of the most difficult days of their life”.
Following each of the student’s speech, they fielded questions from the audience. Multiple students made statements, or followed up on their questions with another, which were both against the rules of the forum. The chair of the event, Oisín Vince Coulter,moderated the questions.
The townhall section of the debate then followed, during which three questions were discussed. Members of the audience posed questions to the speakers on whether the amendment should be repealed, should there be restrictions on access to abortion, and should TCDSU have a stance on the repealment of the eighth amendment.