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26th Mar 2018

Simon Coveney now backing abortion up to 12 weeks “if it’s coupled with strict medical guidelines”

Kate Demolder

Coronavirus spain

The Tánaiste has held a series of meeting with health professionals in recent weeks in an attempt to establish boundaries for the administration of abortion pills.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney is now reportedly set to back abortion for up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy ahead of the Eighth Amendment referendum.

The Foreign Affairs Minister has been meeting with government officials and medical health workers in recent weeks to establish boundaries around the use of abortion pills and setting up safeguards for the administration of same.

Mr Coveney had previously said he does not believe there should be unrestricted access to abortion at any point in a pregnancy.

However, the minister now says that he will support a law that allows access to abortion up to 12 weeks “if it’s coupled with strict medical guidelines”.

According to the Irish Independent, suggested proposals for a ‘Clinical Protocol’, including a pause period of between 48 and 72 hours before a woman is given the pill, will be brought to Cabinet by Health Minister Simon Harris on Monday.

Harris is expected to bring to Cabinet this week the type of legislation the Government will propose should the Eighth Amendment be repealed.

The Foreign Affairs Minister has also been assured that limiting access to pills to the first 12 weeks of gestation will rule out the potential for a child to be aborted on the grounds of a disability. Where there is any doubt about the length of a pregnancy, a scan will be legally required.

As well as establishing strict guidelines for access to the distribution of an abortion pill, Coveney also plans to outlaw late-term abortions. This means that abortion will not be permitted after a foetus becomes viable.

This process will have to be assessed and agreed by two doctors, one of whom will be an obstetrician or a gynaecologist. If viability is established and plans to end the pregnancy on health grounds are suggested, then it will be done through the early delivery of the baby.

The Tánaiste had faced ongoing criticism for his conflicting stance of supporting the repeal movement in the past, but also objecting to the 12-weeks proposal. He has now said his approach would be based on what allows him to sleep at night.

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