4-5 February 2017

2016 – 2018 Citizens’ Assembly 

Third Meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution

The third meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly to specifically consider the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution took place on 4 – 5 February 2017.

Agenda on the third weekend meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly on the Eighth Amendment

Saturday’s Proceedings

The Chair’s opening speech to the Assembly on the Saturday morning is available to read here.

Session 2: Availability of legal terminations in other jurisdictions; Overview

Gilda Sedgh (Guttmacher Institute) – “Key Facts on Abortion Worldwide

Gilda Sedgh is a Principal Research Scientist at the Guttmacher Institute in New York. Her areas of expertise include unintended pregnancy and abortions levels and trends worldwide, trends in the unmet need for contraception in developing countries, and women’s reasons for contraceptive non-use. Dr. Sedgh has published articles in Lancet, International Perspectives on Reproductive and Sexual Health, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Journal of Biosocial Sciences, AIDS, and Studies in Family Planning. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s degree in population and international health and a doctorate in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Ms Sedgh’s delivery of her paper on key facts on abortion worldwide was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Ms Sedgh’s presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Session 3: Case Study: The UK

Dr Patricia A. Lohr (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) – “Submission to the Citizen’s Assembly – Abortion Methods and Care Pathways

Patricia Lohr is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist who completed her post-graduate training at the Los Angeles County-Harbor UCLA Medical Centre. This was followed by a fellowship in Family Planning & Contraceptive Research at the University of Pittsburgh during which she was also awarded a Masters Degree in Public Health. She has been the Medical Director of British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) since 2007.

Dr Lohr is a Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and of the Society of Family Planning. She is the Guardian of the special skills module in abortion care for the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) Abortion Task Force, and a member of the Executive Committee of the FSRH Clinical Studies Group. She contributed to the RCOG guideline and best practice paper on abortion care and to the recent FSRH guideline on post-pregnancy contraception. Dr Lohr is a co-founder and the current Treasurer of the British Society of Abortion Care Providers.

Dr Lohr’s delivery of her “Submission to the Citizens’ Assembly on Abortion Methods and Care Pathways” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Dr Lohr’s presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Dr Peter Thompson (Birmingham Women’s & Children’s NHS Foundation Trust) – “Termination of Pregnancy a Fetal Medicine Perspective

Peter Thompson is a consultant in Maternal and Fetal medicine at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.  He qualified as a doctor and trained as an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist in London, working with Professors Greenough and Nicholaides with whom he did his research and then as a Lecturer at The Royal Free Hospital.

In 1999 he moved to Birmingham as a Consultant in Maternal and Fetal Medicine and performs two fetal medicine lists per week as well as being the lead clinician for women with cardiac disease in pregnancy, women with a multiple pregnancy and the Day Assessment Unit.

Dr Thompson’s delivery of his paper on “Termination of Pregnancy a Fetal Medicine Perspective” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Dr Thompson’s presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Session 1: Rape- Medical and Care Path Issues

Dr Maeve Eogan (Rotunda Hospital & Sexual Assault Treatment Unit)- “Pregnancy in Context of Sexual Violence: SATU Perspective

Dr Maeve Eogan is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Rotunda Hospital Dublin, and Medical Director of the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU), Rotunda Hospital and National SATU Services. She is thus involved in provision of general and specialist obstetric and gynaecology services as well as providing acute and follow up care for men and women who attend SATU. At a national level she has an organisational role in developing and supporting provision of high quality standardised services for people who disclose sexual crime, regardless of which SATU they attend.  She is responsible for collation of SATU Key Service Activity Reports annually which are available on and in conjunction with multiagency colleagues on the National SATU Guidelines Development Group is actively involved in authoring, editing and disseminating interagency National SATU Guidelines.

In the context of her SATU work, Dr Eogan is an invited lecturer and occasional examiner for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Forensic and Legal Medicine at University College Dublin and also provides postgraduate specialist nurse/midwife education at the Higher Diploma in Nursing/Midwifery (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination) in RCSI.’

Dr Eogan’s delivery of her paper on “Pregnancy in Context of Sexual Violence: SATU Perspective” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Dr Eogan’s presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Noeline Blackwell (Dublin Rape Crisis Centre) 

Noeline Blackwell is the Chief Executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and is a human rights solicitor.  The Centre is a voluntary organisation whose mission is to prevent the harm and heal the trauma of sexual violence.  Previously, Noeline worked for FLAC, the voluntary organisation which promoted access to justice and in private practice. She is a member of the boards of the Citizens Information Board, Front Line Defenders and the Immigrant Council of Ireland.  She has awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from UCD.

Ms Blackwell’s delivery of her paper on behalf of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Ms Blackwell’s presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

For further information and contact details for the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, please click here. Their helpline is 1800 77 88 88.

Session 2: Rape- Legal Issues

Tom O’Malley (NUI Galway) – “Rape and Related Offences – A Legal Perspective

Tom O’Malley is a Senior Lecturer in Law at NUI Galway, a practising barrister and a member of the Law Reform Commission. His main research interests are in the fields of criminal law, criminal justice and constitutional law. He has published several books including Sexual Offences (2nd edition, 2013) and Sentencing Law and Practice (3rd edition, 2016).

Mr O’Malley’s delivery of his paper on “Rape and Related Offences – A Legal Perspective” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Mr O’Malley’s presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Sunday’s Proceedings

Session 1: Ethical Perspectives- Reproductive Autonomy

Dr Joan McCarthy (UCC) – “A Woman’s Right to Choose – the moral arguments

Dr. Joan McCarthy MA PhD is a Lecturer in Healthcare Ethics in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork. Her national and international publications address topics including nursing and midwifery ethics, reproductive ethics and end-of-life healthcare ethics. Joan is a member of the Irish National Advisory Committee on Bioethics, the Ethics Committee of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, the Editorial Board of Nursing Ethics, and the Advisory Board of the International Care Ethics Observatory, UK. She was recently a Visiting Scholar at the Hastings Center and Yale Bioethics Center, US, and she is a Visiting Fellow in Feminist Ethics in the University of Surrey, UK.

Dr McCarthy’s delivery of her paper on “A Woman’s Right to Choose – the moral arguments” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Dr McCarthy’s presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Dr Dónal O’Mathúna (DCU) – “Autonomy and Abortion

Dr Dónal O’Mathúna, PhDis a Senior Lecturer in Ethics, Decision-Making and Evidence in the School of Nursing and Human Sciences at Dublin City University. His research interests include healthcare ethics and research ethics (particularly in disaster settings) and evidence-based practice. He has written or edited several books, and published many articles in academic journals and news media. His ethics research has focused on autonomy, human dignity, moral reasoning and disaster ethics. He is also particularly interested in emotions in ethics and their interplay with emerging technologies, and he is involved in projects examining the role of various types of narrative (novels, film, song lyrics, etc.) in ethics education.

Dr. O’Mathúna’s delivery of his paper on “Autonomy and Abortion” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Dr O’Mathúna’s presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

Session 2: Regulation of the medical profession and issues arising including conscientious objection

Professor Gerard Bury (UCD) – “Regulating the medical profession in Ireland Medical regulation, medical dilemmas and making decisions…

Professor Gerard Bury is a General Practitioner in inner city Dublin, Professor of General Practice in the School of Medicine, University College Dublin and previous President of the Medical Council (1996-2004).

Professor Bury’s delivery of his paper “Regulating the medical profession in Ireland Medical regulation, medical dilemmas and making decisions…” was accompanied by a slideshow presentation. Professor Bury’s presentation to the Assembly can be watched back here.

The Chair’s closing remarks at the end of the weekend are available here.

Assembly Business

During private session on the Saturday morning, the Members discussed a random sample of submissions. The Secretariat generated the random sample and circulated it to Members in advance. For more information on how the sample was generated, and to view the sample, please click here.

Over the weekend, the Members completed a selection form to indicate which advocacy/interest groups they would like to here from at the next meeting. In order to be considered the group had to have made a submission to the Assembly. The form and the list of advocacy/interest groups provided to the Members to select from is available to view here.


Over the course of the weekend the Members engaged in roundtable discussions, with the assistance of facilitators at each table. Further details on the facilitation process are available here.

Each table was provided with the same conversation starters for each session.

During the course of the weekend, the Members completed an individual reflective exercise. The exercise they completed is available to view here.


A list of Members at the third meeting on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution is available here.