Abortion legislation to include 'consideration period' of up to 72 hours
A consideration period of 48-72 hours will be required before a woman can have an abortion, according to the Government's planned legislation.
The full bill will only be drawn up if the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment passes.
If enacted, the law will allow for the availability of abortion until 12 weeks in all circumstances, to be regulated by a GP or medical practitioner. Any woman requesting an abortion within this timeline will have to wait in the region of two or three days to consider her decision - details on how the process is to be operationalised haven't fully been worked out.
The time will begin to elapse from the patient's first appointment with a GP or practitioner. There are suggestions a woman could be given a post-dated prescription for abortion tablets after her initial appointment. Cabinet is also likely to rule out mandatory pre-abortion counselling as is common in some EU states.
The proposed legislation will also allow for the termination of pregnancy without time limit on grounds of a serious risk to the health of a woman with no "distinction between physical and mental health."
In this case, a termination will require two medical practitioners to assess the situation.
Health Minister Simon Harris is due to outline the Government's policy during the publication of the Referendum Bill at a special sitting of the Dáil on Friday. Cabinet won't be able to agree the "repeal and enable" wording of the referendum bill until Thursday.
It has to await the outcome of today's Supreme Court case determining whether the unborn has rights to life outside those provided for in the Eighth Amendment.
Meanwhile, Irish Catholic bishops said they will "pray earnestly that Ireland will choose life".
A senior bishop said the hierarchy is "shocked" at the extent of what the Government is proposing in its abortion legislation, and warned that it could result in one of the most permissive abortion regimes in Europe.
In a statement, the bishops strongly defended retention of the Eighth Amendment, warning that to repeal Article 40.3.3 would leave unborn children at the mercy of permissive abortion laws in future.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Bishop Kevin Doran said the Government's proposal on unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks is "far more permissive than anything that is allowed in Britain".