Government to consider ‘Savita’s Law’ name

The Government has said it is open to the legislation giving effect to the abortion referendum being named ‘Savita’s Law’.

A roadmap for the legislation to repeal the Eighth Amendment was discussed by Cabinet yesterday after the decisive 66.4% yes vote last Friday.

Activists and the parents of Savita Halappanavar, who died after being denied a termination, have called for the legislation to be given her name. Her father, Andanappa Yalagi, said recently: “We have one last request, that the new law, that it is called ‘Savita’s law’. It should be named for her.”

A Government spokesman said the idea of the legislation being called Savita’s Law could be considered. It was likely to be called that colloquially, he said.

Some ministers have agreed with the law to regulate the termination of pregnancy being called ‘Savita’s Law’, including Employment Minister Regina Doherty.

Health Minister Simon Harris told colleagues yesterday that the legislation would be published in a number of weeks and introduced in the Dáil before the end of July.

While there have been calls to repeal some restrictions or laws, such as the right for doctors to share files with hospitals in other countries where a termination is sought, ministers have been informed that this could complicate or delay the overall legislation.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach also sought to address concerns about costs for women seeking abortion when measures are introduced. He said terminations would be “available to those who need” them and also said the number of medical cards granted in Ireland was increasing.

Mr Harris told his colleagues he would meet Opposition figures today to discuss aspects of the abortion legislation and whether elements can be fast-tracked or brought forward.

The Government also wants to prepare the ground for the parallel process of preparing clinical guidelines for abortion as well as regulating medicine for terminations. This will begin in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the Government has been warned about the “risks” of the housing crisis for Ireland’s competitiveness, as well as the “high cost of living” impacting on the country’s ability to attract business here. The report for Business Minister Heather Humphreys was carried out by the National Competitiveness Council. But it also notes Ireland still has healthy competitive costs for electricity and some services for businesses.

Elsewhere, the Government agreed yesterday to extend the Magdalene restorative justice scheme to other institutions, a move which will add an estimated 52 people to it.

The move follows a recommendation by the Ombudsman concerning women left out, many of whom were unable to provide proof that they had to work in Magdalene laundry facilities.

Some of the women now included in the compensation scheme were admitted to a training centre or an industrial school in the same building, attached to or located on the grounds of the laundry.

The Department of Justice said that, further to consultation with the Ombudsman, women will receive payment for the period of residency in the adjoining institution, as well as for the work in the laundry itself.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has also agreed to take further expressions of interest from women who might be eligible for benefits under the scheme.

The minister, separately, is also examining proposals from Fianna Fáil for maternity leave for TDs. The measures are seeking 18 weeks’ maternity leave but there are issues which must be legally examined, said the department, as TDs are office holders once elected and not employees of the Oireachtas.

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