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Government to reveal policy paper on abortion if 8th amendment is repealed

11 March, 2018, 03:02 | Author: Drew Briggs
  • Cyril Byrne

In commencing the debate, Minister for Health Simon Harris said he was "mindful of the impact of the Eighth Amendment over the 35 years since its insertion" in 1983.

The Government has published a six-page policy paper on abortion, setting out its plans for abortion legislation provided the upcoming referendum results in the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

"In particular I am mindful of the women whose most painful, most personal stories we know because it forced them to court, to other countries, to courts in other countries" he said.

Campaigners are seeking to liberalise the regime to allow for unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.

"This work has so far established that provision of free access to contraception methods, which are now limited to those with eligibility through the Primary Care Reimbursement Services, would require enabling primary legislation", said Harris.

A woman will be obliged to wait 48-72 hours before a termination can take place.

According to RTE, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "On my first day as Taoiseach I committed to holding a referendum this year".

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Terminations would also be available where there is a risk to the health or life of a woman, or in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and the Department of Health is drawing up proposals to consider the "nature and scope" of a free contraception service.

"If our underlying principle is that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, then we must do all we can to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies and to support women in every way", he added.

"We should never criminalise vulnerable women in these situations", said Minister Harris.

Sinn Féin is unlikely to hold an Ardfheis to update its abortion policy before the eighth amendment referendum is held. "Retaining the Eighth Amendment will not prevent it from happening".

Fianna Fail's health spokesperson Billy Kelleher said that Irish women were being treated as second class citizens and it could no longer continue.

Colm O'Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: "The legislative framework outlined today would broadly realise women's rights, and meet the State's human right obligations".

The debate is due on continue today until 4pm.

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