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Thursday 21 September 2017

Government publishes abortion legislation

Health Minister Dr James Reilly
Health Minister Dr James Reilly
Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

THE Government has finally published the abortion legislation and reiterated its intention to have it passed by the Summer.

The 18 page Protection of Life In Pregnancy Bill, 2013, published eventually at 12:30am this morning, also contains a list of the 24 hospitals across the country where abortions can take place.

Health Minister Dr James Reilly reiterated the Government's intention to pass the legislation by the Summer.

In a statement, Dr Reilly said the legislation covers existing constitutional rights only.

"It not create any new rights," he said.

The Government said the legislation will now be debated in the Oireachtas.

"It is the intention of the Government to have the legislation enacted into law before the summer recess," a statement said.

The Department of Health said the Bill restates the general prohibition on abortion.

"Its only aim is to place a legal framework on an already existing narrow provision – set down by the Supreme Court in 1992.

"Based on the tight parameters in which it is set, the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 outlines the circumstances in which a rare but life-saving termination may be permitted."

The Government says the bill is to provide legal clarity, by way of legislation and regulations, of the circumstances where a medical termination is permissible where there is real and substantial risk to the life – as opposed to the health - of a woman as a result of a pregnancy.

The statement says this is as required by the European Court of Human Rights Judgement in the ABC case.

Dr Reilly said the decision by Cabinet approving the Bill comes in the wake of extensive work between the Government partners.

"We have produced what we consider to be a balanced set of proposals aimed at meeting the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights. I believe that pregnant women and their doctors will now benefit from the far greater legal clarity this Bill will bring," he said.

One doctor required to authorise termination in the case of a medical emergency.

Two doctors must authorise the termination when there is a physical threat to the life of the mother.

Three doctors must authorise the termination when there is deemed to be a risk of suicide in the mother. These three doctors will be the woman’s obstetrician and two psychiatrists, one of which will be a specialist with experience in dealing with the mental health of pregnant women.

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