Medical experts warn that referendum may be required

Medical experts and pro-choice groups welcomed plans to legislate for abortion in limited circumstances — but stressed that a broader referendum on the issue may still be needed.

The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said the Government’s decision in response to the European Court of Human Rights and the ABC expert report agrees with the medical group’s view of what needs to happen.

It asaid the plans being tabled were in the best interests of women and health care workers.

“We welcome the Government decision on the form of action to be taken,” the group said in a statement.

“The implementation of this judgment by way of legislation with regulations is also our preferred option, a decision that we reached following an in-depth review of the details provided by the expert group.

“The option is, in our opinion, the best way to protect women and health professionals, and it also allows for the necessary flexibility to cater for future advances in obstetrics.”

Choice Ireland also welcomed the move to legislate for abortion in limited circumstances and to back up any new law with regulations. However, it said a timeframe for how this is to progress should be made available.

“We welcome the fact the Government has now made a clear commitment to action on this issue. It is vital, however, that following this announcement implementation of legislation is not further delayed,” said spokeswoman Sinead Ahern.

Her colleague, Stephanie Lord, added: “Legislating for the X case is a vital step forward to protect the lives of Irish women and to vindicate their constitutional rights.

“However, any legislation for X still strictly limits access to abortion in Ireland and will only cover a very small proportion of the Irish women who terminate pregnancies every year.

“We are calling on the Government to examine the broader issue of abortion and to hold a referendum to roll back the 8th amendment.”

The United Left Alliance said the move was a positive step, “despite a delay of 20 years” since the 1992 Supreme Court X case ruling.

“It is time to face the reality that now, when many women are struggling to feed themselves and their children, the need for free, safe, legal abortion in Ireland is more urgent than ever,” a statement read.

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