A group of 15 organisations has held a joint news conference calling for a No vote in the referendum. The group, including Cherish, Alliance for a No Vote, and the Irish Family Planning Association, said that the referendum proposal was a retrograde step.

The National Women's Council, Sinn Féin, the Green Party and Labour are also part of the group. At the joint news conference the group said the proposed 25th amendment's core objective was to reverse the "X Case" judgement by elimination of suicide as a ground for legal life-saving abortion in Ireland.

In the statement, they said, "As organisations opposed to the referendum, we are calling for a No vote because we are not prepared to take away what little protection there is for girls and women in a crisis pregnancy situation who are suicidal".

At the press conference this morning, Alliance for a No vote spokeswoman Sinéad Kennedy urged the public not to "make criminals of women in crisis pregnancies".

Voters will be asked if they accept or reject the proposed amendment to the Constitution on 6 March. If accepted, the amendment and the Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Act will become abortion law.

The Alliance for a No Vote group includes Cherish, Labour Party Women, ICCL Women's Committee, Lawyers for Choice, Workers Solidarity Movement, WERRC of University College Dublin, Socialist Party, Cork Women's Right to Choose Group, Dublin Abortion Rights Group, as well as other organisations and individuals.

Fianna Fáil, the Pro-Life Movement and the Catholic Bishops, are among the groups campaigning for a Yes vote in the referendum. The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said on the weekend that the amendment was an "honest attempt" to resolve the complexities which have surrounded the debate on abortion for at least the past decade.

Yesterday, the Referendum Commission released its information booklet on the issue. The booklet said acceptance or rejection of the Government's proposal would not change the doubtful constitutional position of the morning after pill and similar devices.