Legislation to provide abortion procedures to go before Dáil next week
The Bill will be introduced and debated in the Dáil next week.
Minister For Health Simon Harris announced on Thursday morning that he intends to publish the text of the abortion legislation over the coming days and introduce it in the Dáil next week.
Harris will today seek Cabinet approval for the text of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018, which will provide for access to terminations without restrictions until the twelfth week of pregnancy.
This proposed law would follow the approval of 66.4% in a referendum on 25 May 2018 to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which had given constitutional protection to the unborn.
This morning I will seek approval from Cabinet for the Health (Regulation of termination of pregnancy) Bill 2018 - a law to give effect to the vote of the Irish people to repeal the 8th amendment. Plan is to introduce the Bill in the Dáil next week
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) September 27, 2018
The legislation will aim to provide for access to abortion until the twelfth week of pregnancy.
It will also aim to provide for access to terminations when a mother's life or health is at risk and when there is a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality.
Minister Harris will meet medical representative groups over the coming weeks to discuss how this will operate.
It is expected that the introduction of “safe access zones” around centres offering abortion services – where people would be legally prohibited from protesting against abortions and intimidating those who plan to do so – will not be part of the abortion legislation introduced to the Dáil next week but will make up part of a later piece of legislation.
It's also understood that there will be a 72-hour pause period between the first meeting with a doctor and the termination. Harris has said before that he hopes this legislation will be enacted by early 2019.
The government is aiming to have this service in place and available on a universal basis by the beginning of next year.
The Health Minister also, recently, announced that all health service institutions across the country must provide abortion care as part of their services, shunning the idea of a controversial opt-out service as previously considered.
It's expected that legislation surrounding this will be discussed on Thursday afternoon, too.
Harris said just last week that it is his "intention that the services will be free."
"I've said from the start that I don't want cost to be a barrier, because if cost is a barrier you get into a situation where one of two things happen, you get abortion clinics to develop or you can see people having to continue to travel.
"I want this to be provided as part of our health care system, our public health care system and part of our primary health care system."