Pro-life amendment was 'legal time bomb'

It has emerged the wording of the 1983 pro-life amendment was hastily approved, despite one attorney general labelling it a "legal time bomb".

According to newly-released State papers, another AG also raised concerns about the amendment.

In November 1982, the then Fianna Fáil government announced the wording of the anti-abortion amendment, which later went on to be approved by the electorate.

However, newly released State papers are now shedding light on the fact that the attorney general, Patrick Connolly SC, warned the government that a pro-life amendment could threaten the right of the mother to have a life-saving operation.

He also raised red flags at that time over cases concerning rape or pregnant women suffering from mental health problems.

Another attorney general, Peter Sutherland, also advised the Government that the amendment would create serious legal ambiguities, but this advice was dismissed as political pressure from anti-abortion campaigners.

Official British health figures indicate that at least 143,000 women have travelled from Ireland to the UK for terminations since the 1983 referendum.

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