Draft laws on abortion to be brought to Cabinet

Draft laws on abortion will be brought to the Cabinet by Health Minister James Reilly, next week but the Taoiseach says he cannot guarantee they will be enacted before the summer.

The legislation giving legal clarity on when a termination should be permitted when a pregnant woman’s life is at risk, was expected to be in place by July.

However, Enda Kenny told the Dáil the Government would proceed “without rushing it” and without imposing “undue pressure”.

He said the heads of the bill would be presented to Cabinet next week and it would then be sent to the Oireachtas health committee for consideration.

“There will be a proper and full consultation and debate, as this matter warrants. We will proceed with it on that basis, but without rushing it,” he said.

Asked by the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, if it would be in place before the Dáil breaks for summer, he said: “It depends on the nature and extent of the debate.”

Mr Kenny said: “I would like to think that it might be enacted by the summer recess but I do not want to impose any undue pressure on this.”

He said there was a “time lag required between the sending of the heads of the bill to the committee and the committee considering them”.

Abortion is one of a number of issues that is likely to cause tensions within parties and between the coalition partners over the coming months.

A number of Fine Gael TDs are strongly opposed to any move that would allow the risk of suicide to be used as grounds for a legal abortion.

They have written to the Taoiseach urging a “sunset clause” to be inserted into the legislation, meaning it would expire after a certain period of time and have to be reviewed.

Lucinda Creighton, the minister for European affairs, is one of the TDs with concerns about the legislation. She said a sunset clause would “ensure the legislation wouldn’t be abused or used for unintended circumstances”.

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