Citizens' Assembly on abortion due 'as quickly as possible in the autumn', says Harris

Citizens' Assembly on abortion due 'as quickly as possible in the autumn', says Harris

Health Minister Simon Harris has reiterated his view that a referendum is needed before legislation on terminations in the cases fatal foetal abnormalities can be passed by the Dáil.

The House debated a bill put forward by Independent TD Mick Wallace, with Minister Harris saying that he cannot accept the proposed legislation as the Attorney General has ruled that it is unconstitutional.

However, some Independent TDs in Cabinet have said that they want a free vote on the issue when it comes before the Dáil again this week.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle wants the proposed abortion bill should be sent to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality.

A Citizens' Assembly is due to discuss the 8th amendment in the autumn.

Minister Simon Harris said that although he wants to see the issue of terminations in the cases fatal foetal abnormalities dealt with, the constitution prevents him from doing so.

"In relation to this issue, the Oireachtas … cant' make the change that I would like to see in relation to women experiencing fatal foetal abnormalities," he said.

"That does require constitutional change, and the answer, whoever is in my seat, is always the same.

"Whether they'd like to do it or wouldn't like to do it, they find themselves not able to do it, because of the 8th amendment.

"But I can confirm though that the Government's intention now is to see the Citizens' Assembly commence before November.

"We're hoping to have it commenced as quickly as possible in the autumn."

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