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27th Mar 2018

Simon Coveney wants vast majority lock on new abortion legislation

Kate Demolder

Simon Coveney has now said that he wants the new abortion legislation to include a vast majority lock in an attempt to avoid disparities in the near future.

The Tánaiste, who surprised the nation on Monday by announcing that he is backing abortion up to 12 weeks, wants the proposed new abortion legislation to include a two-thirds majority lock to prevent it being easily changed in the future.

This means that before any alterations could occur to our country’s abortion laws in the future should it pass, it would need the support of two-thirds of the Dáil and Seanad first in order to do so.

This would make it next to impossible for any one political party to change the law in the future. To put into context, a two-thirds majority would be more than Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil combined in the current Dáil.

The Tánaiste believes that this will reassure voters who are concerned about more liberal laws being introduced into abortion legislation.

Coveney will seek a guarantee at the cabinet on Tuesday morning that legislation could not be easily changed by a future parliament. He and the rest of the cabinet ministers will discuss the general scheme for what abortion laws they would aim to bring in if the amendment is repealed.

As well as that, Tuesday morning will also see ministers considering proposals allowing abortions to be carried out by medical practitioners through abortion pills up to 12 weeks gestation.

A three-day cooling-off period will be required from when a woman seeks an abortion to when she gets the pill.

There will also be restrictions on late-term abortions in the cases of fatal foetal abnormality or risk to the life or health of the mother.

Mr Coveney, who had traditionally been against access to abortion for up to 12 weeks gestation, changed his position earlier this week when he said that he would support terminations up to the end of the first three months of pregnancy.

His decision was supported by speaking to clinicians, and receiving reassurances that women would be talked through all available options.

While the Health Minister’s change of heart regarding abortion legislation this week has lifted those keen to repeal the Eighth’s spirits, the Save The Eighth campaign has dismissed Coveney’s proposals as “crazy, unconstitutional, and telling.”

Commenting on Coveney’s decision to support the process of abortion for up to 12 weeks, Save the 8th’s Niamh UiBhrian said:

“We agree with Simon Coveney that politicians simply cannot be trusted with abortion, and that additional safeguards are needed. But what the Minister is proposing is crazy, unconstitutional, and telling.”

“Article 15 of the constitution says that all matters before the Dáil shall be decided by simple majority.”

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