Abortion services will be free, Harris confirms

Abortion services will be free, Harris confirms

Ireland's imminent abortion services will be completely free to ensure they can be fully accessed by anyone who needs them, end the need to travel abroad for care and to prevent an influx of private abortion clinics into this country.

Health Minister Simon Harris confirmed the new services will not cost anything just 24 hours after President Michael D Higgins signed the referendum result into law, thereby formally removing the eighth amendment from the constitution.

Speaking to reporters at the opening of the new primary care centre in Grangegorman, Dublin, Mr Harris said that even though abortion services are set to be provided in the near future it is essential "cost is not a barrier" to accessing the medical help.

Asked specifically if he will introduce any charge to receive abortions in legislation due to be passed by cabinet next week and put to the Dáil in the first week of October, Mr Harris confirmed no fees will be involved.

The Health Minister said the move is needed, saying that if a price tag was linked to accessing abortion services it would encourage private abortion clinics into Ireland and lead to women continuing to travel abroad for the care they need.

"Yes, it is my intention that the services will be free," Mr Harris confirmed.

"I've said from the start that I don't want cost to be a barrier, because if cost is a barrier you get into a situation where one of two things happen, you get abortion clinics to develop or you can see people having to continue to travel.

"I want this [abortion services] to be provided as part of our healthcare system, our public healthcare system and part of our primary healthcare system.

I think it's important to say that Tuesday was an extraordinarily historic day. The President of Ireland signed the bill that has removed the eighth amendment from the constitution, and today is the first day that the eighth amendment is actually gone from Bunreacht na hEireann.

"That now allows us as legislatures to do our job," he said.

Mr Harris also confirmed that, now that President Higgins has signed the order paper to remove the eighth amendment from the constitution, he will bring planned law changes to allow abortion services to cabinet next week.

The Health Minister said he expects cabinet to pass these new rules immediately in order to allow him to bring them to the Dáil in the first week of October and fully introducing them by the end of this year.

"Next week I will return to cabinet for final approval of the bill that will legislate for termination of pregnancy in certain circumstances.

"I intend to introduce that in the Oireachtas in the first week of October, I hope we can pass it through the Oireachtas in the month of October and November," he said.

Asked about ongoing concerns pro-life groups may target the three day 'cooling off' period for women seeking to access abortion services which is included in the planned new laws, Mr Harris said he was aware of the issue.

However, in a clear message to groups wishing to continue the abortion debate, he said:

"I do note the comments of some groups about the three days. But I would say to anybody regardless of whether you voted yes or no, we made a conscious decision to have a very detailed general scheme available before the referendum, that three day period was part of the discussion and was debated fully during the referendum, which was passed."

The Pro Life Campaign said that today’s proceedings at the Oireachtas Committee were “a rude awakening” for anyone who thought the new abortion law would be restrictive.

Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro Life Campaign said: “Today’s committee hearings brought into sharp focus the extreme nature of the abortion law about to be introduced. It’s a definite rude awakening for anyone who thought the law would be somewhat restrictive.”

“It is clear Health Minister Simon Harris and others in government have no interest in hearing perspectives other than ones that zealously back abortion. It is going to take time but the public will realise the full extent of the charade that is going on when the reality of what the abortion law permits starts to sink in," she said.

More on this topic

Demand for post-abortion support more than doubles, Cork Sexual Health Centre reportsDemand for post-abortion support more than doubles, Cork Sexual Health Centre reports

‘10,000 signatures in 48 hours’ to Theresa May opposing liberalisation of NI abortion laws‘10,000 signatures in 48 hours’ to Theresa May opposing liberalisation of NI abortion laws

Simon Harris says hospital exclusion zones a priority following 'inhumane' pro-life protestSimon Harris says hospital exclusion zones a priority following 'inhumane' pro-life protest

SNP MPs to vote on legalising same-sex marriage and abortion in Northern IrelandSNP MPs to vote on legalising same-sex marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland

More in this Section

'I visit her grave every day': Santina Cawley's mum heartbroken at thought of life her daughter won't get to live 'I visit her grave every day': Santina Cawley's mum heartbroken at thought of life her daughter won't get to live

Eamon Ryan would be open to Green Party going into GovernmentEamon Ryan would be open to Green Party going into Government

Grieve accuses Johnson of Brexit ‘radicalisation’ over Irish backstopGrieve accuses Johnson of Brexit ‘radicalisation’ over Irish backstop

Dad of gifted student with special needs appeals for 'invaluable' resource class to stay openDad of gifted student with special needs appeals for 'invaluable' resource class to stay open


Lifestyle

It's hard to build a reputation in gaming, but it can be even harder to keep one.Game Tech: Dragon Quest Builders sequel builds on first outing

Fretting about doing your holiday shop with the summer sales in full swing? Who needs the hassle?Beach babe: Log on, check out and have a stress-free start to your holiday

Tea dunking is not just for cosy winter evenings. Biscuits are handy in the summer months for picnics or to keep you going on long hikes.Michelle Darmody's tricks for perfect home made biscuits

Apply sunscreen throughout the day, says Helen O’CallaghanBurning issue: Children's skin needs added protection from the sun

More From The Irish Examiner