Dáil to debate abortion legislation proposals today

Dáil to debate abortion legislation proposals today

The Dáil will debate proposed new laws on abortion for the first time later.

Health Minister Simon Harris got cabinet approval for the legislation last week.

More than four months after the referendum to remove the 8th amendment, the Dáil will get around to debating the new legislation today.

It would allow for abortion without restriction for up to 12 weeks into pregnancy and in limited circumstances after that.

Minister Harris has called on pro-life TDs not to delay the passage of the legislation in the same way other bills have been filibustered.

He remains confident doctors will be able to carry out abortions from the start of next year, despite concern from practitioners about whether they'll be ready in time.

Last night the government announced Dr Peter Boylan will be working with the HSE to lay the groundwork for the new service.

He will consult with other medical practitioners about what is needed to bring in abortion services in Ireland and will work on drafting clinical guidelines for doctors.

Dr Boylan was the Chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and a vocal supporter of a Yes vote in the abortion referendum campaign.

The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) said it welcomes the introduction of abortion legislation, but that more needs to be done to ensure that abortion care is accessible and based on medical evidence.

Linda Kavanagh, a spokesperson for ARC, said they were "we are disappointed that so little has been done to rectify the considerable problems with the draft legislation".

“We appreciate prior commitments made by the Government to provide abortion in the public health system, free from cost barriers and with ring-fenced funding. However, many elements of the legislation remain problematic.

Mandatory waiting periods defy all medical evidence and disproportionately harm the most vulnerable groups in society. By the time they present to their doctor, a pregnant person has already thoroughly considered their decision.

"Neither the Citizens Assembly nor the Joint Oireachtas Committee recommended this measure. Restrictions on abortion that are not based on medical evidence have no place in legislation.

"The time has come to fully decriminalise abortion. We urge the Dáil to revise the legislation to ensure it meets international medical evidence and best practice standards," she said.

The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment has hailed today as a “historic day for Ireland” and said it hopes to see a number of amendments made to the Bill.

Ailbhe Smyth, Convenor of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, said: “Today is a momentous and historic day for Ireland as, finally, we are progressing the much-needed legislation to ensure women in this country can access safe and legal abortion services. This is the culmination of over three decades of struggle for women to be able to exercise their reproductive rights.

“We need to ensure realistic access for women who need abortions. The three-day waiting period proposed in the Bill, and the reference to ‘serious’ health risks have been widely acknowledged by the medical profession and human rights experts as unnecessary and, in the case of health, potentially dangerous.

“We are calling on the Government to amend the Bill to deal with the ambiguity caused by the reference to ‘serious’ health risks. This term should be deleted entirely. We also want to see the Bill amended to remove the mandatory three-day waiting period.

“We have waited so long for this legislation. We now need to ensure that the law – when enacted – enables women to access the health services that they need, when and where they need them.”

Digital Desk

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