Today’s meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment and the decisions facing it, was described as "momentous and historic" by one Independent senator last week.

Lynn Ruane expressed hope that the solidarity that came to light at the committee considering Article 40.3.3, would be replicated as the country moves towards a referendum campaign.

At the same meeting, a second Independent senator who takes an opposing view suggested that members suspend their judgement on the Eighth Amendment until they have looked at the issues in the round.

Rónán Mullen said it would be too easy for members of the political parties in particular, to find themselves locked in by a party whip.

Those are just two of the concluding arguments at last week’s committee meeting at the end of a three-month long process and hours of hearings.

While a number of TDs and senators were less vocal in their stances since September, they attended the meetings with the intention of listening and learning.

It’s doubtful that few could argue from either side that they didn’t learn something from the process.

In its first public hearing, the Chairperson of the Citizens' Assembly on whose recommendations the committee would be voting said she didn’t underestimate the difficult task facing members.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy suggested that the Oireachtas committee consider looking at the issue of abortion pills in its work because she noted that the HSE’s crisis pregnancy agency published statistics after the Citizens’ Assembly had concluded its work, showing the number of people travelling for terminations had reduced.

When the Oireachtas committee moved to its healthcare module the Assistant Professor in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas said that since 2006, a non-profit online telemedicine service called Women on the Web had provided early medication abortion in countries where safe, legal services were not available.

Dr Abigail Aiken said figures showed that the number of women from Ireland and Northern Ireland requesting early medication abortion through that website rose from 548 in 2010 to 1,748 in 2016.

She contrasted that to figures showing that the number of Irish and Northern Irish women that travelled to England and Wales fell by almost 50% between 2002 (7,913) and 2016 (3,992).

The majority of women (54%) were using contraception when they became pregnant and the most common reason (62%) for Irish women requesting abortions through online telemedicine was being unable to bring up a child at that time in their lives.

At the next session the author of a report on the death of Savita Halappanavar, Professor Sabaratnam Arulkumaran said he would advocate the legalisation of abortion pills in Ireland.

"Can I tell you that everybody in this room are abortionists, some support legal, those who don’t support legal abortion support illegal abortion", he told the committee.

The subject of abortion pills was just one re-occurring issue raised during the committee. Other issues during the three-month process included the question of criminalisation and sex education.

The Human Rights and Equality Commission recommended that abortion be decriminalised "in all circumstances".

It was suggested by a number of TDs and senators that a recommendation be made in the final report to the Oireachtas to address those facing a 14-year prison sentence for having unlawful abortions.

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly described the issue of decriminalisation as "an absolute must" and she said it was a key matter for the committee, because much of what follows after is covered by the chilling effect of it.

Speaking on behalf of Deputies Mattie McGrath and Peter Fitzpatrick, last week Senator Mullen said the criminal law does not exist just to put people in prison.

"It exists to prevent certain behaviours that can hurt people themselves and others", he said.

Ireland’s sex education was a subject that was also touched upon a number of times.

Consistent in her questioning in this regard was Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton, who said it was clear that the Irish education system was not doing enough in educating young people, not just on biology but regarding relationship advice, dealing with emotions and providing a holistic approach to sex education and relationships.

Contraception too was addressed during the hearings, in the context of affordability.

Before those ancillary matters can be addressed however, members have to vote on the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly today.

The big issue - whether or not to recommend to the Oireachtas that it repeal the Eighth Amendment.

While the committee, already voted not to retain Article 40.3.3 as it stands - which led to huge criticism from those on the committee in favour of retaining the eighth - all signs point to the majority of members voting to recommend repeal this afternoon.

Historic and momentous, indeed; but whatever report and recommendations are furnished to the Oireachtas next week, will just be the start of the journey towards next year’s referendum.

Finding the right wording for that will be the next hurdle.