- 28 Mar 18
The Minister for Health, Simon Harris has announced a so-called "approval of the general scheme of the legislation" which the Government would propose if the 8th amendment is repealed.
Speaking last night, the Minister stated: “Today is a very significant day on the road to holding a referendum on the 8th amendment. Today Cabinet approved the general scheme of the legislation which this Government would propose if the 8th amendment is repealed."
He added: “This legislation is based on the policy paper which I brought to Cabinet earlier this month and is in line with the recommendations of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment."
It proposes to make terminations lawful where an appropriate medical practitioner has certified that the pregnancy has not exceeded 12 weeks. 72 hours must elapse between certification and the termination being carried out.
Beyond the first trimester, terminations will only be available in exceptional circumstances – on the grounds of risk of serious harm to the health, or life of the woman, in emergency situations or in cases of fatal foetal abnormality. In all other circumstances, abortion will remain unlawful.
“In cases where this is a risk to the life, or of serious harm to the health, of a woman, termination would not be lawful beyond viability," he explained.
The viability of the foetus would be assessed and agreed by two doctors, "one of whom would be an obstetrician/gynaecologist".
If viability is established and the pregnancy is ended on health grounds then it will be done through early delivery, with a full medical team on hand.
“I also brought to Cabinet today a package of measures aimed at reducing crisis pregnancy in Ireland – including increased access to obstetric care and counselling, and contraception," Minister Harris said.
“Earlier this year, I I set out a very detailed, ambitious and demanding timetable to facilitate a referendum by the end of May and I’m pleased to say that’s firmly on track.
“I expect that we will be in a position to set the polling day this week so that the people of Ireland will know exactly what day in May this referendum will take place.
“The Referendum must be passed, and the 8th Amendment repealed, if anything is to change for Irish women.
“I believe that the more people reflect on the current situation in Ireland the more they will see the need for change."
He concluded: “We cannot continue to ignore that fact that women are being forced abroad to have a termination, that women are purchasing abortion pills unsafely online and that women in extremely difficult situations are left isolated and neglected.
"I believe that the Irish people will vote to repeal the 8th amendment."