In Front of White House, Irish Leader Stands Up for His Country’s Abortion Ban

After meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House Tuesday, Irish leader Enda Kenny voiced his support for Ireland’s constitutional abortion restrictions during a press conference outside the White House.

When a reporter asked if he supported expanding abortion rights, a staffer quickly tried to preempt by saying, “Next question.”

However, Kenny responded, “We defer to the Eighth Amendment.”

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny speaks with US President Barack Obama(not seen)during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House on March 15, 2016 in Washington,DC.  (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny speaks with President Barack Obama during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House March 15. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution adopted in 1983 reads in part, “The state acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

There has been a push in Ireland to repeal the Eighth Amendment, but supporters of the amendment won recent elections.

Last week, Kenny resigned as prime minister but maintained his role as acting head of government until later this month. The resignation came after the Irish Parliament failed to elect a prime minister, or Taoiseach.

Just days before St. Patrick’s Day, Kenny met Tuesday with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and then spoke to reporters at the press stakeout area in front of the White House.

Kenny also talked about the important role of faith on St. Patrick’s Day.

“Since the tinkling of the first Christian bell, St. Patrick never wanted to be an iconic figure,” Kenny said. “He used a two-leaf shamrock as a prop to explain what it was that he meant. His message was about how, really, the Irish could be, in our faith, abiding in the principles of courage and truth and commitment to our common humanity.”