Saturday 19 April 2014

Government publishes draft of abortion legislation

THE Government has published the draft of the abortion legislation following a lengthy discussion by Cabinet ministers earlier today.

The title of the bill has changed from the Protection of Maternal Life Bill 2013 to the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013.

The draft legislation proposes the procedure for approving an abortion be carried out, which requires the consent of:

* one consultant in the case of emergency;

* two consultants in the case of a physical risk;

* three consultants in cases of a suicide threat.

In the case of a suicide threat:

Risk of loss of life from self-destruction - draft legislation continued

* the three consultants must be unanimous in their opinion;

* the team of three is comprised of one gynaecologist and two psychiatrists;

* one of the psychiatrists does not have to be a perinatal psychiatrist;

* one of the team of three has to consult with the patient's GP;

* where the application for an abortion is refused, an appeals process is in place;

* the appeal team is comprised of one gynaecologist and two psychiatrists;

* again, the three must come to a unanimous opinion;

* the appeal team will only be called in when requested by the patient.

In a statement, the Government says it has agreed to refer the General Scheme of the Bill to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children and to request that it should review the Scheme and report on its deliberations to the Minister for Health.

"The proposed legislation sets out a clear legal framework for women and for medical practitioners in Ireland.

"It will provide legal clarity for the medical profession of the circumstances where a medical termination is permissible where there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of a woman as a result of a pregnancy," it says.

Tomorrow morning, the members of the sub-committee tasked with drawing up the legislation will hold a briefing on its contents.

Dr Reilly, Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Labour junior ministers Alex White and Kathleen Lynch will field questions on the legislation.

This morning, ministers met from 10am until just after 2pm, without reaching agreement on the suicide test in the abortion legislation.



The full heads of bill can be viewed here:

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