Ireland must deal with abortion issue 'definitively', says Health Minister

Health Minister Simon Harris says Ireland must deal with abortion "definitively", after two women who had attempted suicide more than once were refused abortions in Ireland.

The Abortion Support Network says the women were both immigrants who needed visas if they were going to travel to the UK for a legal termination.

One of the pregnancies had been diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality.

Last night, Minister Harris said that he would make all possible resources available to draft legislation for a referendum on the issue.

“The Taoiseach made it very clear in his first address when he appointed the new Cabinet last week that it is his intention to hold a referendum in 2018,” he said.

“He has tasked me with the responsibility of preparing for that.

“There is an Oireachtas Committee, which has been established and about to meet, to consider the outcome of the Citizens’ Assembly.”

Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) spokesperson Linda Kavanagh warned that after repeal of the 8th amendment any legislation that does not allow for broad access to abortion services is doomed to fail: "It is clear that any law that requires women and pregnant people to prove their circumstance before being allowed an abortion will not work in Ireland.

"If a woman who tries to commit suicide twice is not entitled to an abortion under the grounds of risk from suicide, what hope does a victim of rape or insest have of accessing abortion under a rape ground?

"Those with money and visas can travel, while those without must be forced to endure an onerous and traumatizing process where gatekeepers can decide if and when they are entitled to basic human rights."

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