Abortion services should be set up by the new year, Harris says

Abortion services should be set up by the new year, Harris says

Update: The Minister for Health Simon Harris has said abortion services should be in place by the new year as planned.

Mr Harris said he was acting on the instruction of the Irish people by legislating to make termination safe and legal in the country, and he would not apologise for being ambitious about the timeline.

Government ministers approved legislation providing for legal abortion at a cabinet meeting today. The legislation will be introduced to the Dail next week.

It shouldn’t be acceptable to women or anybody who cares for women that we can’t have this service in place (by January). I believe it’s doable

If passed, the new laws would give effect to the referendum outcome earlier this year.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Harris said it was 125 days since the referendum was passed yet Irish women still could not access services in their home country and were being forced to travel abroad to access terminations.

“Since the scenes of relief in Dublin Castle back in May, 1,500 women have had scenes of crisis and devastation visit their home and visit their personal life, so we have to be ambitious,” Mr Harris said.

Campaigners celebrated after the referendum result was announced (Niall Carson/PA)
Campaigners celebrated after the referendum result was announced (Niall Carson/PA)

He added: “It shouldn’t be acceptable to women or anybody who cares for women that we can’t have this service in place (by January). I believe it’s doable.”

The minister said all TDs and senators had a duty to scrutinise the legislation but he said they should do so with the knowledge that women were still at risk.

Mr Harris said he believed the medical profession would facilitate the services being implemented.

He added that he had arranged to meet medical groups next week to work their way through the issue.

He said that he wanted to see safe access zones introduced around areas where women would be accessing abortion services to protect them from any harassment or intimidation.

Mr Harris said he would be introducing separate laws to that effect.

Earlier: Simon Harris secures Cabinet approval for new abortion laws

It will cost a significant amount to bring in abortion in Ireland but that money will be provided in the budget, according to Minister Simon Harris who got Cabinet approval for the new laws this morning.

They will be introduced into the Oireachtas next week and may face serious opposition from pro-life TDs.

Ministers have called on those TDs not to delay the legislation and to respect the overwhelming vote of the people to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: "There is a duty on all of us who are honoured enough to sit in the Dáil and the Seanad to scrutinise the legislation - absolutely - and ask the questions on the legislation.

"But also [we must] do that in the knowledge that women today are still having to travel, and women today are still at risk because of the pill online."

More than four months after the Irish people voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Eighth Amendment, the laws allowing abortion to take place have been signed off by ministers.

The Thirty-Sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018 was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins last week.

The proposed legislation, if approved by the Dáil, will allow for abortion without restriction for up to 12 weeks into pregnancy and in limited circumstances after that.

Minister Harris has said the Government is committed to providing abortions for free when the service comes in.

Abortion services should be set up by the new year, Harris says

He also wants to bring in safe access zones, around areas where women access terminations, to prevent them from being harassed or intimidated when going for an abortion.

Despite concerns from doctors, Minister Harris believes the new service can be in place by January 1.

PA & Digital Desk

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