THE Government is facing the difficult prospect of having to pass legislation in the Dail to bring in rules on abortion.
The expert group on abortion has failed to point to a way of regulating for the X Case under existing laws, the Irish Independent has learnt.
But the report doesn't directly say either whether new legislation is definitely needed.
The options set out by the group fail to provide any solution in the current law that would underpin abortion in limited circumstances.
Passing legislation of any kind on abortion would be highly contentious – and particularly divisive within Fine Gael.
Sources familiar with the report say it is clear from reading it that legislation will be required to be passed, such is the complexity of the area.
"It's open for interpretation. But it appears legislation of some sort would be needed, even if that's only enabling legislation to allow for regulations to be introduced," a source said.
"The reality is it would be a very big surprise to everyone if any piece of legislation wasn't challenged, so you do need a statutory basis."
The 50-page report proposes:
• A system to be put in place for deciding on whether a termination is required.
• Abortions to be decided upon by high-ranking medics treating the pregnant woman.
• A second opinion would be required for the abortion to be approved.
• An appeals process where an abortion is denied.
• Appeals panel, possibly made up of experts in obstetrics, gynaecology, psychiatry and with legal expertise available, if required.
• A plan for dealing with emergency cases.
• The threat of suicide being a grounds for abortion, in line with the X Case.
• The regime would be put in place via a combination of guidelines for medical staff, regulations issued by the Minister for Health or by specific legislation.
However, the report does not come down in favour of one recommendation. It sets out the pros and cons in each case.
"The report says this is a medical decision and doctors have to be enabled to use their judgment in difficult cases," a source said.
The report goes through what is described as a logical series of questions on dealing with the issue. Half of the report goes through outlining the legal and medical background on abortion, including the various referenda, Constitutional position and landmark court challenges.
Although it doesn't make direct recommendations, it is said to be factual, detailed and will narrow the parameters of the debate.