1,200 members of Irish science community sign petition for Yes vote

17 May 2018

From left: Dr Clare Kelly, Dr Simon Kelly, Prof Cliona O’Farrelly, Dr Claire Gillan, Prof Aoife McLysaght, Dr Tomás Ryan, Dr Shane Bergin, Prof Rhodri Cusack and Dr Redmond O’Connell. Image: Maxwell Photography

Major science figureheads sign for a Yes vote in the referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

The referendum on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the Irish constitution is a little over a week away and today (17 May), 1,200 members of the science community have pledged their support for a Yes vote on 25 May. Scientists For Yes includes many people from a broad range of disciplines.

Advocating for repeal

Petition signatories range from Irish Nobel laureate Dr William C Campbell and noted science broadcaster Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin to Trinity College Dublin’s Prof Cliona O’Farrelly and Prof Aoife McLysaght.

PhD candidates, students, scientists and science communicators (including staff of Siliconrepublic.com) are among the 1,200 individuals who are advocating for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment. In all, individuals from 21 research organisations across Ireland have signed the petition.

In a letter published in the Irish Independent, the signatories commended the politicians and members of civic society who acknowledged how they had been compelled to offer support for repeal by the strong evidence and personal testimony of individuals affected by the Eighth Amendment.

Evidence-based rationale

Commenting on the letter, Dr Tomás Ryan, assistant professor of neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin and spokesperson for Scientists for Yes, said: “As scientists, we value evidence-based, rational decision making. Based on our assessment of the social and scientific evidence, and guided by our own individual private values, each of the 1,200 of us has arrived at slightly different, personal positions that all call for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

“We commend the Citizens’ Assembly and the Joint Oireachtas Committee, whose members examined all of the legal, medical and scientific evidence, and listened to many personal testimonies, before delivering their respective reports.

“Both groups overwhelmingly and independently came to the same result: that the only reasonable and compassionate place for women’s reproductive healthcare is inside of a doctor’s surgery and outside of our constitution.

“For anyone who is undecided on how to vote next week, we encourage them to undergo a critical assessment of all of the social, legal, medical and scientific evidence available and of the sources of claims made, before deciding how they wish to vote on May 25.”

The letter concluded by saying: “The Eighth Amendment was inserted on a wave of negative emotions; let it be washed away by a flood of reason, evidence and compassion.”

The full list of signatories can be found on the Scientists For Yes website.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects